New questions are asked about the influence of the Conservative Party co-chair, who got bogged down in demands for money against access, after it is apappeared that no file was kept which was discussed during the meetings with the ministers in his role of "champion of food waste".
Ben Elliot has been accused of running a secret club for major donors, which blurred the line between his business interests and his political role. Since it was reported that he had created an “advisory board” for wealthy conservative donors who were granted access regular to the prime minister and to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor.
Now after a Guardian's access to information request, it can be revealed that no minutes were kept of the five meetings between ministers and Elliot. It also emerged that official meetings over the past two and a half years have included discussions about expanding Elliot's role to increase his engagement with ministers across government.
Minutes were kept in only six of the 22 recorded meetings held with officials since he was appointed in 2019 as "champion of surplus and food waste ”with a brief to help promote awareness of food waste in retail and other sectors.
Thursday, Elliot has been warned by UK lobbying regulator to maintain a 'clear distinction' between public office and public relations ivate business interests after investigating sur reports that his luxury concierge company, Quintessentially, had organized access to high-level politicians.
He found out that Quintessentially " had not engaged in any consultant lobbying activity "but, in a wake-up call, told him to be" careful "and to ensure that his roles remain separate.
Work, who raised further questions on Elliot 's business interests described lack of meeting minutes as " a rule for senior Conservatives and another rule for everyone ".
Anneliese Dodds , the chairman of the Labor Party, said: "It is unacceptable that the co-chairman of the partyTory seems to be using his no n-political stance to waltz into meetings with ministers and officials off the books.
"Ben Elliot has an earlier form when 'It's about blurring the lines between his private activities and his public appointments. We urgently need to know what was discussed in these meetings, who was present, what actions resulted from them and whether any business interests de Ben Elliot were involved. "
Alex Thomas, program director at the Institute for Government think tank, said it was unusual for no notes are taken during a meeting with ministers, especially if it was a formal ministerial discussion.
"You you would expect notes to be taken, especially so that action points can be passed on to those who need to be informed in the departement, ”added Thomas, who served as senior private secretary in the government.
Sources at the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) suggested that the meetings were not recorded because they were "informal.
Some details emerge from the minutes kept from his meetings - titled "Ben Elliot Monthly". A senior official at a meeting in May suggested tying Elliot's work to broader government initiatives such as "build back better" and the "upgrade" program. The same official also said he would like to "use Ben more with ministers across government ".
During the same meeting, Elliot suggested inviting ministers for discussions to explain how they could help, while officials agreed to set datess in September and October. Other minutes also indicate that Elliot is to be involved in the attempt to get the BBC to become a government partner next year as part of the Week of Action Against the Government. food waste.
A Defra spokesperson said: 'Food waste is one of our biggest environmental challenges, and the UK is leading the global effort with a commitment to reduce it by 20% by 2025. Ben Elliot's role as champion of surplus food and waste is vital in this effort.
"This is an unpaid volunteer role and party political activity is not an automatic barrier to ministerial appointments. Ben Elliot is eminently qualified for this role having systematically campaigned on reducing food waste. "
Elliot has been contacted for comment via the partyConservative.
Pressure increased on Elliot - the Duchess of Cornwall's nephew - after Tory donor Mohamed Amersi claimed the party co-chair had benefited from introducing him to the Prince of Wales in 2013 .
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said in response to the allegations: “Donations are reported appropriately and transparently to the election commission. ssion, published by them, and fully comply with the law. "