Milliband, Sleaze and 'green' nuclear power

M. Andreis Allamandola at
Fri May 19 01:01:50 BST 2006

Here's another story the New Labour Guardian/Observer, the BBC and just about every other news media in Britain have somehow overlooked! Well done the Thunderer!

Milliband 's connection with nuclear lobby memo 

In case you missed it, I thought I'd send you all this piece on 
Blair's protege Milliband's connections with the nuclear industry, if
getting this sent to you makes any of you cross with me, let me know 

The Sunday Times
May 14, 2006

Revealed: minister's links to nuclear lobby
Robert Winnett, Whitehall Correspondent

Revealed: minister's links to nuclear lobby
Robert Winnett, Whitehall Correspondent
DAVID MILIBAND, the new environment secretary, is embroiled in a sleaze row this weekend over his links to a nuclear industry lobbyist. 

The lobbyist — Alan Donnelly — chairs the minister’s local constituency party. He also helped to pay for the refurbishment of Miliband’s constituency party headquarters in Newcastle. The cabinet minister has appeared at events organised by the lobbyist. 

Last week Tony Blair announced that Miliband would be central to the government’s decision on whether to build a new generation of nuclear reactors. Miliband has already hinted that unlike Margaret Beckett, his predecessor, he supports nuclear power. 

Sovereign Strategy, Donnelly’s lobbying firm, represents the US multinational Fluor, one of the world’s biggest nuclear companies, which is hoping to win a stake in the £70 billion British nuclear waste market. 

Senior Fluor executives and government ministers, including Blair, have attended events organised by Sovereign Strategy. The lobbying firm’s marketing material boasts that it provides “guidance on legislation issues in the field of environmental performance”. 

Donnelly also founded and helps to run the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum (Tanef), an organisation that aims to foster “strong relationships” between nuclear power companies and governments. 

Documents show that Sovereign Strategy paid £2,000 for building works at a terraced house in South Shields, Tyneside, which serves as headquarters of the local Labour party and contains Miliband’s constituency office. 

The building was refurbished last year although Donnelly said yesterday that his company’s money was used only for improvements to kitchen facilities used by party workers. He had “no idea” whether Miliband used the facilities. 

The payment has been declared to the Electoral Commission, which oversees donations and election expenses, but Miliband has not declared it in the Commons’ register of members’ interests as is normal practice for MPs receiving financial help in their constituencies. 

The Commons rules state that any “donation received by a member’s constituency association which is linked either to candidacy at an election or to membership of the House” must be registered. 

Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary, said: “The question of our future energy supply is crucial and we can’t have these decisions made on the basis of hidden links to the nuclear industry or lobbying activities. The whole process should be unbiased.” 

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said: “It is worrying if there are clear links between Miliband and a prominent nuclear lobbyist as it calls into question his impartiality.” 

Donnelly, a former Labour MEP, has also donated more than £75,000 to the Labour party nationally. However, Miliband, who was drawn into the cash for peerages row because of his involvement with city academies, is thought to be the only MP whose constituency has benefited directly from Sovereign Strategy funds. 

One director of Sovereign is Lord Cunningham of Felling, a pro-nuclear former cabinet minister. He co-chairs Tanef, the nuclear forum, along with a senior executive at Fluor, which employs the lobbyist for advice. 

Alan Boeckmann, the chief executive of Fluor, met Blair at an event organised by Donnelly last November. Miliband also attended. 

In 2004, while still a Labour MP, Cunningham wrote to senior nuclear executives asking them to join the forum. His letter, obtained by The Sunday Times, says: “Tanef was created to provide a setting for senior executive transatlantic business-to-business and business-to-government dialogue on key nuclear energy issues and concerns . . . Membership in Tanef is being offered by select invitation with membership dues of $50,000 annually.” 

Nuclear-power firms that have joined the forum include Fluor, Urenco, which makes enriched uranium, and British Nuclear Group, the waste management arm of BNFL. 

Donnelly, 48, is a Blairite who worked for the GMB union and headed the Labour group in the European parliament until he resigned his seat in 2000 and set up Sovereign. 

It is one of the few lobbying firms that has not joined the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), a professional body that bars payments to MPs or peers. 

Gill Morris, who chairs the APPC, said: “We promote complete transparency and a total ban on paying legislators. I believe there are paid legislators and peers on Sovereign’s books. It is not operating in a wholly transparent fashion.” 

Sovereign’s other clients include Formula One Management and the Premier League. 

Yesterday Donnelly said he had never sought to influence Miliband’s views on nuclear policy. He said Sovereign provided the “secretariat” for Tanef and helped set up the organisation. He added: “Regarding the South Shields Labour party HQ . . . Mr Miliband rents offices on the first floor. The kitchen used by local party workers on the ground floor was improved last year and Sovereign Strategy contributed to the cost. This was declared to the Electoral Commission.” 

A spokeswoman for Miliband said he rented office space on a commercial basis and any maintenance was an issue for the landlord, his constituency party. The minister had held no private meetings with Fluor and had “no recollection” of meeting nuclear executives at Sovereign events. “The sum total of his relationship with Alan Donnelly is between MP and constituency chairman,” she said. 

Ministers will decide this year the outcome of its energy review. On Friday Blair asked Miliband to consider setting up an office for climate change.
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