A rightwing thinktank has been offering potential US donors access to government ministers and civil servants as it raises cash for research to support the free-trade deals demanded by hardline Brexiters, according to an investigation.
The director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) was secretly recorded telling an undercover reporter that funders could get to know ministers on first-name terms and that his organisation was in “the Brexit influencing game”.
Mark Littlewood claimed the IEA could make introductions to ministers and said the thinktank’s trade expert knew Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, David Davis and Liam Fox well.
The IEA chief was also recorded suggesting potential US donors could fund and shape “substantial content” of research commissioned by the thinktank and that its findings would always support the argument for free-trade deals.
The investigation, undertaken in May and June, also revealed the thinktank had already provided access to a minister for a US organisation.
Here is more coverage from various sources:
- Think tank faces double investigation after 'cash for access' claims (The Guardian).
- Institute of Economic Affairs think tank 'offered access to ministers' (The Times).
- A hard Brexit think tank told a potential donor it could influence its research reports in exchange for funding (Unearthed).
- Labor demands investigation into right-wing think tank over accusations it offered 'access to ministers' (Independent)
- Revealed: BP and gambling interests fund secretive free market think tank (Ecologist).
- Revealed: How the Uk's powerful right-wing think tanks and Conservative MP's work together (openDemocracy UK)
- Revealed: IEA think tank bosses' £4.6 million for Tories (The Red Roar).
- Casino owners donated to IEA after think tank's pro-gambling report (The Guardian).
- The IEA's "Brexit-influencing game" shows think tanks are open to abuse (NewStatesman).
- IEA think tank faces registration as a lobbyist as government tsar opens investigation (Third Sector).
- Jersey Finance paid for IEA report rubbishing 'hotbeds of tax evasion' claims (The Guardian).
- Channel Island banks fund IEA research defending tax havens (Unearthed).
- IEA think tank unveils pro-gambling report after being funded by casino industry players (Casino Guardian).
- Institute of Economic Affairs says it has 'no apology' to make over newspaper claims (Third Sector).
- Institute of Economic Affairs defends 'cash for access' (BBC)
- The Daily Devil's Dictionary: Think Tanks Provide "Access" (Fair Observer).
- Why it's time for the Institute of Economic Affairs to be pulled off air (Left Foot Forward).
Here you can watch the undercover video that exposed all of this.
Here is IEA's formal response, via Mark Littlewood.
Here is a Twitter thread where IEA's news editor Kate Andrews defends her think tank.
The IEA example is one of numerous pay-to-play schemes at think tanks that has come to light over the past several years.
Stay tuned for more updates soon...