Number 10 may come under pressure to account for their arrangements with an adviser to David Cameron — who reportedly persuaded counterparts in Washington DC to adopt an events scheme run by his lobbyist girlfriend.
Former entertainment industry executive Mike Weatherley entered the Commons in 2010 pledging to be “a parliamentary champion of film and music”. He won’t have disappointed his former bosses, setting up two schemes promoting the interests of the copyright lobby to his fellow MPs.
The success of ‘Rock The House’, a music competition which saw groups performing on the parliamentary estate — led to his appointment as the PM’s intellectual property adviser in September 2013.
But here’s where it gets interesting.
Earlier that year, Weatherley had formed a company, The House Associates Ltd (THA), with his live-in girlfriend, professional lobbyist Nikki Haywood. While he divested himself of interests (including THA) on appointment to his role with Cameron, it was later announced that Rock The House would be “transferred to the administration of” THA, which was then wholly owned by his girlfriend and was advertising lobbying services on its website:
“Representing a wide range of expertise from Public Affairs and Public Relations to music management, The House Associates oversees initiatives and campaigns around the creative industries
“The UK’s intellectual property advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron … is on a tour to drum up support for a US version of Rock The House, the annual music contest he founded
“Mike Weatherley, a top advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron, spent the last week pitching his American counterparts on Rock the House”
Having approached Rep. Judy Chu of the Creative Rights Caucus, her office is now backing a Capitol Hill version of the competition, with assistance from, errrr, Nikki Haywood and The House Associates Ltd. Scrapbook understands that THA have retained a member of staff to work specifically on Rock The House.
Having already announced he was stepping down from parliament, Weatherley then quit his role with David Cameron in October.
While the Weatherley household may not boast a parliamentarian by summer 2015, it will still have apparent control of a potentially lucrative international ‘lobbying franchise’ — with similar schemes up and running in Brussels and Australia.
In multiple statements issued via his lawyers, Weatherley has strenuously denied exploiting his position as the PM’s adviser or breaching any parliamentary obligations:
- While on trips to the US, he insists that he made it clear that his role was advisory and not a government position — and that he was not acting in his capacity as the PM’s adviser when he was promoting Rock The House
- He states that a compliance statement provided to the Cabinet Office disclosed that Rock The House was being administered by a company owned by his partner, and that he planned to expand the competition to foreign legislatures while in post
- He further claims that the initial approaches for the EU and Australian competitions were made to him (not the other way around) by third parties
So perhaps Number 10 can explain why on earth their arrangement with Weatherley permitted him to promote a privately-controlled IP lobbying scheme run by his live-in girlfriend — all while in post as the PM’s IP adviser?