In what could be the Tories’ second high profile appointments cock-up this week, it turns out that David Cameron’s nominee for the UK’s next European commissioner owns shares in multiple EU lobbying firms.
Before leading the House of Lords, Lord (Jonathan) Hill had an extremely lucrative career as a lobbyist, co-founding the public affairs outfit Quiller. He now has a stake in at least two similar companies which have a direct office presence in Brussels.
Records obtained by Scrapbook show that Hill owned 50% of Quiller before it was sold to Huntsworth Plc for £5.9m in autumn 2006 — presumably in a mixture of cash and shares, the latter of which appear on Hill’s entry in the Register of Lords’ Interests. Hill consequently has an interest in Huntsworth’s massive network of communications businesses — including Grayling and Citigate, which boast offices “in the heart of Brussels’ EU quarter”.
Quiller have already been in hot water over their clients’ regular access to Conservative ministers –having employed one of George Osborne’s pals in a leadership role at the company. As a peer, Hill even intervened to support the sell-off of school playing fields to Tesco — one of Quiller’s clients.
So how is it in any way sustainable for the UK’s Commission nominee to be making money from companies which lobby the Commission?