Following a story in the Evening Standard that suggests Nick Clegg’s wife’s firm is lobbying for Libya, Labour MEP Richard Howitt has written to the Deputy Prime Minister to clarify the position:
Rt. Hon Nick Clegg MP
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
22 February 2011
I have known you over a long period and apologise for having to write in these terms, but I wanted to write to you directly concerning the information provided to me and which appears in todayâ€™s London Evening Standard, about the company in which your wife is a partner.
The article claims that your wifeâ€™s firm is lobbying on behalf of the Libyan government during negotiations with the EU and, as a Member of the European Parliament serving on the parliamentary committee responsible for overseeing current negotiations between the EU and Libya, of course I have a direct responsibility myself for this question.
I understand that your wifeâ€™s employment is recorded in the list of Ministersâ€™ Interests published by the Cabinet Office. But given the sensitivity concerning human rights abuses in Libya at present, I would like you to clarify on whether the companyâ€™s representation of Libyan interests has been fully disclosed to the Cabinet Secretary in full compliance with the spirit of the Ministerial Code, section 7.3.
Furthermore, as I am sure you are aware, the European Commission has established its register of Interest Representatives as part of the European Transparency Initiative, and it appears that your wifeâ€™s company has not been registered according on this register or to comply with its associated code of conduct. I would ask for this to be fully investigated, again with the objective of avoiding any suggestion of conflict of interest.
In light of your own personal ministerial responsibility to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists, I believe it is imperative for the maintenance of public trust that a thorough investigation into this matter is conducted and concluded as soon as possible.
I would be grateful if you could reply to me at your earliest convenience.
Member of the European Parliament
for the East of England