It seems this is not the first time Lord Laird has fallen on the ‘complicated’ side of parliamentary rules… From February 2000, not long after his appointment as a peoples peer the Guardian reported that he and Lord Rogan had failed to declare their lobbying interest in Northern Ireland…
When contacted by The Observer , Laird denied any conflict of interest. There was no difficulty with his role as chairman of a PR company which offered clients ‘public affairs’ consulting, he said.
He said he had never, as a peer, lobbied personally on behalf of his clients in Westminster, and had ‘never heard the issue voiced’ as to whether he had a conflict of interest.
On any occasion when he had spoken on issues relevant to his company’s clients, such as the Police Federation NI, he insisted that he had always made it clear that a relationship existed.
‘It is important that one maintains the very highest standards,’ he said. ‘Lobbyists have to be cleaner than clean.’
Adds: And, eeek, courtesy of Spinwatch, May 22nd…
On her LinkedIn page Bridgette Bester, PA to Lord Laird describes herself as ‘currently a PA to a Lord in Parliament’. However, she notes, ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ she is ‘looking for an opportunity as a PA’. Bester suggests that her parliamentary pass will be made available to any future employers:
“I hold a pass to Parliament which is extremely rare, due to my circumstances in leaving this position Lord Laird has told me it is fine to keep by (sic) pass if it benefits my next role for effective networking.”
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty