Letter of advice: Lee Cain, commission with the Kurdistan regional government


1. REQUEST FOR COMMERCIAL APPOINTMENT: Lee Cain, former director of communications at n ° 10, commission to the Kurdistan regional government within the framework of his independent consulting firm.

You sought advice from the Business Appointments Advisory Committee (the Committee) under the Government’s Rules on Business Appointments for Former Crown Officials (the Rules) on a short-term role in advising the Kurdistan Regional Government ( ARK) – under your independent advice (Charlesbye). The material information taken into consideration by the Committee is set out in the appendix.

The purpose of the rules is to protect the integrity of government. Under the Rules, the mission of the committee is to examine the risks associated with the actions and decisions taken during your mandate, as well as the information and influence that you can offer to the KRG.

The Committee recommended that a number of conditions be imposed to mitigate the potential risks associated with this work under the Rules; this does not imply that the committee has ruled on the advisability of this appointment in other respects.

The rules[footnote 1] stipulate that Crown officials must abide by the advice of the Committee. It is the candidate’s personal responsibility to manage the merits of any appointment. Former Crown officials are expected to uphold the highest standards of decorum and act in accordance with the 7 Principles of Public Life.

2. The Committee’s review of the risk presented

The committee[footnote 2] considered this commission to be in line with the description of your consulting firm which you described as providing “strategic advice to CEOs and senior executives – giving advice on business strategy, crisis management, safeguarding reputation and effective communication campaigns ”.

When considering this request, the Committee noted that there is a relationship between the KRG and the government. However, you did not meet or make any specific decision at the KRG during your tenure. In addition, this is a time-limited job, limited to providing basic communication support in the form of liaising with UK journalists and arranging interviews for them. , regardless of the government’s relationship with the KRG. Therefore, the Committee considered that there was no reason to believe that this appointment was a reward for decisions made or actions taken during your time in government service.

As the former communications director at # 10, the Committee noted, you would have had access to inside information. There is a risk that the KRG will be seen as taking advantage of your insight and influence in government. However, the Committee considered it important that:

  • this is a general risk, you had no particular responsibility for the KRG on duty;

  • almost 9 months have passed since you did not have access to any information on the job; and you are prevented from tapping into inside information and have a permanent duty of confidentiality;

  • the role is considerably limited in nature and in time and does not involve any contact with the government on behalf of the KRG;

  • the Cabinet Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), he has no objection to you taking on this role

Additionally, the committee noted that due to your seniority and influence in government, there is a risk that your network and influence may be viewed unfairly.

3. The Committee’s opinion

The Committee considered it important in the risk assessment in this case that this role be limited to providing basic communication support in the form of liaising with UK journalists and arranging interviews for them. and has determined that the above risks can be appropriately mitigated by the conditions applying to your board, below.

These conditions clearly indicate that this would be inappropriate; and you must not use the contacts acquired in function (directly or indirectly) for the improper benefit of the KRG.

The Committee recommends, under the government enterprise appointment rules, that this short-term work for the Kurdistan Regional Government be subject to the same conditions as those previously applied to your independent consulting firm:

  • You must not rely on (disclose or use for your own benefit or that of the persons or organizations to which this notice refers) any inside information that you have since your time in the service of the Crown. As part of this general provision, the Committee considers that you should specifically avoid giving your independent counsel, or its clients, insight based on information from your time serving the Crown on Brexit matters, in as far as it relates to the UK’s post-departure negotiating strategy. from the EU;

  • for two years from your last day of Crown service, you must not become personally involved in lobbying the UK government or any of its arm’s length bodies on behalf of those you advise on your independent advice (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients); you should also not use, directly or indirectly, your contacts in government and / or the Crown to influence policy, secure business / funding or otherwise unfairly benefit those you advise as part of your independent advice (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and customers);

  • for two years from your last day of Crown service, you must not advise any company or organization on the terms or concerning the subject matter of an offer or contract with, or directly related to the work of the UK Government or any of its arm’s length bodies; and

  • for two years from your last day of Crown service, before accepting commissions for your independent counsel and / or before expanding or changing the nature of its commissions, you should seek advice from the Committee. The Committee will decide whether each committee complies with the terms of the consultation and will take into consideration all relevant factors under the Company Appointment Rules.

By “inside information” we mean official information to which a Minister or Crown official has had access by reason of his office or employment and which has not been made public. Applicants are also reminded that they may be subject to other confidentiality obligations, whether under the Law on Official Secrets, the Civil Service Code or otherwise.

The corporate appointment rules explain that the restriction on lobbying means that the former Crown official / minister “should not engage in communication with the government (ministers, officials, including special advisers, and others). officials / public office holders) – wherever it takes place – with a view to influencing a government decision, policy or contract / grant award in relation to their own interests or the interests of the organization for which they are employed, for which they are under contract or with which they hold functions.

As with all special advisers, the Committee makes this recommendation with the understanding that, if you have not already done so, you must confirm in writing to your service that you agree that you continue to be bound by the provisions of criminal law. (including the Official Secrets Act) which protect certain categories of information, and by its duty of confidentiality to the Crown.

You must let us know as soon as you start this job, or it is announced that you will. Please also let us know if you are considering expanding or changing the nature of your role as, depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary for you to reapply.

We will post this letter on the Committee’s website.

4. Appendix – Hardware information

4.1 The role

You said you were approached by the KRG to provide support to the national media during the President’s visit to the UK. interviews with some British journalists during the visit.

The job is to provide basic communication support in the form of liaising with UK journalists and arranging interviews for them. The job will be to place timely interviews with the right journalists and not involve any liaison with HMG. You did not participate in the organization of these meetings and you will not participate in the meetings either.

You said that your role would not involve any contact with the government.

4.2 Office transactions

You informed the Committee that you had not met the KRG during your mandate and that you had not taken any decision specific to the KRG. In addition, you said that you were not involved in any relevant policy making or decisions that would have had an impact on the KRG and no commercial or contractual liability regarding the KRG.

4.3 Department assessment

The Cabinet Office and No.10 have confirmed the information you provided and have confirmed that they have no concerns with this appointment.

The FCDO has also been consulted on this appointment and has confirmed that it has no objection to your taking on this role.


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