It recently emerged that the man who runs fracking company Cuadrilla and who also works in government – Lord John Browne – lobbied Dept of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) chiefs four times in eight months last year.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request also reveals that these lobbying sessions were commercial in nature.
Browne works in the Cabinet Office, where he has used his influence to appoint many senior executives, at least three of whom work for the fracking industry.
According to an FOI request by MP Caroline Lucas, Browne met Ministers Chris Huhne and Greg Barker – separately – at the end of 2011/early 2012. Browne has no experience with fracking, so questions arise as to why the he was considered to give advice.
Browne later brought in Cuadrilla senior management to lobby senior Civil Servant Lord Marland (12 March 2012) and then Minister Charles Hendry on the 2nd July.
The FOI reveals commercial interests were part of Browne’s meetings: “It would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of Cuadrilla …if we were to release details of what they said.”
Why is a government employee permitted to access senior ministers on matters that stand to directly benefit his own company? And why is he permitted to advise on official policy formation communicated in confidence from members of Government?
In light of the ongoing Lynton Crosby affair it’s time that Browne’s dual roles are brought under scrutiny – as well as the much larger links between fossil fuel companies and government.