保守党联合主席, 本·艾略特, 已被官方监管机构警告，他应该更明确地将自己的公共角色和商业角色分开, following complaints that the high-end concierge company he runs engages in lobbying.
In a written summary of investigation, the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists said that while Elliot had been cleared of any wrongdoing, he should nonetheless take action in the future.
Harry Rich, the registrar, had written to Elliot advising him “to be cautious about the possibility of engaging in consultant lobbying activity (perhaps unintentionally) by not making a clear enough distinction between his role as a director of Quintessentially and his other activities connected to government”.
Elliot has run Quintessentially, a concierge service for wealthy people, 自从 2005.
The complaint to the registrar followed reports that Elliot’s two roles had potentially crossed through the creation of a secretive “advisory board” for wealthy Conservative donors, who paid £250,000 a year or more for regular access to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
The Conservative party confirmed the existence of the board and the fact that its members meet senior party figures for “political updates”.
Mohamed Amersi, a businessman and Tory donor, told the Financial Times that the club was “like the very elite Quintessentially clients membership: one needs to cough up £250,000 per annum or be a friend of Ben”.
Separately, Elliot has faced criticism from some people involved with the longstanding Conservative Middle Eastern Council over the party’s attempts to set up a new group called Conservative Friends of Middle East and north Africa (Comena), spearheaded by Amersi.
Charlotte Leslie, the former Tory MP who runs CMEC, has accused Elliot of failing to disclose that Amersi was a client of Quintessentially. In particular, she has criticised Elliot for not revealing the business link when the Bahraini and Saudi ambassadors raised questions with the Tory party about the new Comena group.
Labour has separately called for more transparency about Elliot’s ownership of a stake in Hawthorn Advisors, a PR firm that works to influence government policy on behalf of its clients. The party raised questions after it emerged that the firm had lobbied the government on behalf of sub-prime lender Amigo, Chinese telecoms company Huawei, and health firm Iceni Diagnostics.
Elliot has consistently said that he keeps his business interests separate from his Conservative role, which he has held since 2019.
The summary ruling from the registrar said the body had written to Quintessentially following reports about the advisory board, and that the company said “no consultant lobbying has taken place”, an assurance later backed up with details of what had occurred.
Rich had then written to the company to say the investigation was completed, but that Elliot should be cautious over not inadvertently taking part in lobbying. The registrar’s office was set up in 2014 to maintain a statutory register of consultant lobbyists.
A spokesperson on behalf of Ben Elliot said: “The registrar has made clear that Quintessentially does not lobby government and therefore does not need to register as a lobbyist.”
Rich’s agency aims to ensure transparency in the work of lobbyists dealing with the government. Under the legislation that established the office, people and organisations that lobby ministers or permanent secretaries are required to register with the agency.