Press release 19th Nov 2019

Goverment Departments Fail to Publish Lobbying Data

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November 19, London – Two Whitehall departments failed to provide any information about discussions between ministers and lobbyists for the second quarter of 2019 – despite the Government’s own rules requiring them to do so.

The Ministry of Justice and Department for Education both failed to publish their disclosures for meetings that took place between April and June, official data analysed by Transparency International UK revealed.

UK Government departments are required by the Ministerial Code to publish details of Ministers’ meetings with external organisations quarterly.

The analysis was carried out using Transparency International’s free-to-use Open Access tool, which now holds over 57,000 meetings with ministers from 27 departments. Open Access allows the public and press to easily scrutinise which lobbyists have met with ministers – and why. Users can also download the data for free and submit FOI requests via the WhatDoTheyKnow tool produced by mySociety.

Steve Goodrich, Research Manager at Transparency International UK, said:

“Lobbying is an important part of any functioning democracy, but when it takes place behind closed doors with no record of what was discussed, it can understandably prompt questions over whether Ministers have something to hide. Major progress has been made to increase transparency in recent years, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done to bring lobbying out of the shadows.

“That two departments failed to publish any data is a serious cause for concern and suggests they are either not aware of the rules or are deliberately ignoring them. The public has a right to know what their elected representatives are discussing in their capacity as Ministers – and who they are discussing it with. Failing to provide this basic information risks giving the impression that these public servants could be abusing the power entrusted in them for private gain.

“Departments must ensure ministers meetings with lobbyists are published on time and with meaningful information.” 


Harvey Gavin
+44 (0)20 3096 7695
++44 (0)79 6456 0340

Notes to editors:

UK Government departments are required by the Ministerial Code to publish the details of Ministers’ meetings with external organisations quarterly. This should cover all external meetings Ministers have whilst on official business. It does not include meetings Ministers have in their capacity as a member of a political party.

Government Digital Service provides departments with guidance on how to publish this data.

Compliance with the code is overseen by the Propriety and Ethics Team in the Cabinet Office.

All data on Ministers’ meetings with external organisations is published on UK Government departments’ websites.

Please let us know if you notice any meetings that have not been disclosed by departments but you know have taken place between Ministers and external organisations.