Multinational Chairmen's Group
Corporations Political Mafia

[2005] QUESTIONS ASKED OVER LABOUR'S `SECRET’ MEETINGS WITH BIG BUSINESS LEADERS  Details of high-level meetings between the prime Minister and top executives of Britain's most powerful companies will remain secret, the government has ruled, despite widespread concern about big business' privileged access to senior politicians.....The documents released reveal that Blair has met with the MCG every year since he was elected in 1997. Participants at the last meeting, in October 2004, included top executives from HSBC, Vodafone, Unilever, BP, the drinks giant Diageo, cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco, and mining company Rio Tinto.
.....Last year, The Guardian newspaper revealed that the head of one of the world's largest tobacco companies, British American Tobacco, used an MCG meeting in March 2000 to put private pressure on the Prime Minister and the then trade secretary Stephen Byers.
    BAT stood accused of facilitating large-scale tobacco smuggling, costing UK taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, and faced a possible public inquiry by the Department for Trade and Industry. But after the MCG meeting with Tony Blair and a second private meeting with Byers, plans for the inquiry were dropped and a DTI investigation was conducted in secret instead. The findings of that investigation have never been published, and the government turned down a second FOIA request from The Big Issue in the North for its release.

Multinational Chairman's Group - all is revealed?

Martin Rosenbaum | 14:16 UK time, Wednesday, 15 August 2007
Ever heard of the Multinational Chairman's Group? I hadn't either.

It does sound a little like the kind of shadowy yet powerful organisation which is believed by some to control the entire world, but from what I can make out it seems to be a lobbying group of big bosses who occasionally meet the Prime Minister to argue their corner.

We may soon know more about it, as the Information Commissioner has instructed the Cabinet Office to reveal some background briefing material relating to the meetings. However Downing St won't have to disclose the speaking notes officials prepared for Tony Blair, partly because he might not actually have bothered to read out the points that his minions felt he ought to be making.

One interesting little detail of the judgment is that whoever requested the information did so on 4 January 2005, the first working day of the FOI era. And I thought we were meant to live in a time of instant gratification.

The Commissioner's press release announcing the judgment, issued today, focuses somewhat surprisingly on the information to be withheld not that to be released.

It's the latest in a series of 'dog bites man' ICO press releases with a topline angled on the Commissioner backing public authorities when they have kept information secret. Anyone would think that the Commissioner is trying to get a reputation for protecting secrecy.