British government denies lobby claims
Britain's government on Tuesday dismissed claims made by a leading lobby company that it had direct access to Prime Minister David Cameron as "outrageous" and "a load of rubbish".
Undercover reporters from Britain's Bureau of Investigative Journalism secretly recorded executives from public affairs firm Bell Pottinger boasting of their influence over Cameron, finance minister George Osborne and Cameron's chief of staff Ed Llewellyn.
The opposition Labour party said the recordings, which were published in Tuesday's Independent newspaper, contained "very serious allegations" that highlighted problems with the lobbying system.
Bell Pottinger Public Affairs director Tim Collins explained that he had forged strong links with Cameron and Osborne while working with them in the Conservative party's research department.
"I've been working with people like (government aide) Steve Hilton, David Cameron, George Osborne for 20 years-plus," he said. "There is not a problem getting the messages through."
Collins claimed that Cameron had raised a copyright issue with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao on behalf of engineering company Dyson "because we asked him to".
A spokesman for Cameron's Downing Street office denied the claims, saying: "Bell Pottinger nor any other lobbying firm has any say or influence over government policy."
© 2011 AFP