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Wednesday, July 15, 1998 Published at 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK

UK Politics

Lobbyists suspended from umbrella body

Parliament: Lobby firms under fire

Two of the parliamentary lobbying firms at the centre of the "cash for access" row have been told to withdraw from their professional association - until an independent inquiry clears their names.

GPC Market Access and GJW, both named in the controversy over lobbyists claiming access to government, told the Association of Professional Political Consultants they had taken action to stop rules being broken.

[ image: Derek Draper: Lost job]
Derek Draper: Lost job
But in a move to distance itself from the controversial companies, the umbrella body for firms which lobby politicians and government, asked both to withdraw until a professional practice committee audits their changes.

The association's Michael Burrell, who chaired a three-hour meeting with the two companies, said the firms were granted 24 hours to consult their boards.

Derek Draper, the lobbyist at the centre of the row, lost his job with GPC Market Access after the Observer newspaper said he had offered undercover reporters access to Government "inside information".

GJW has apologised to the House of Commons after it provided an embargoed copy of a select committee report to an undercover reporter posing as a client.

[ image: Downing Street: Denies any wrongdoing]
Downing Street: Denies any wrongdoing
Mr Burrell said that GJW had committed a "clear and acknowledged breach of parliamentary privilege" while Mr Draper's actions "had brought the industry into disrepute".

"We felt that it would be appropriate for the two member companies to withdraw from membership while (the audit) was carried out," he said.

"The two companies asked for time to consult their boards. We have given them 24 hours."

The association added that it had a code of conduct which makes all members aware of strict rules covering abuse of institutions and unprofessional claims about ability to influence.

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