- 11 updates
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood told Labour he does "not see what purpose would be served" by an inquiry into claims that Tory adviser Lynton Crosby lobbied David Cameron over tobacco packaging.
In a letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has demanded an inquiry, Sir Jeremy said:
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has rejected Labour calls for an inquiry into alleged breaches of the ministerial code relating to lobbyist Lynton Crosby's engagement as elections adviser to the Conservative Party.
Labour vice-chairman Michael Dugher said Lynton Crosby's statement denying he lobbied the Government on tobacco issues "raises more questions than it answers":
Lynton Crosby, whose lobbying firm is reported to have worked for tobacco giant Philip Morris, said any suggestion he had used his position as an adviser improperly was "simply false".
In a statement issued today by his company CTF Partners, Crosby said:
Conservative election adviser Lynton Crosby has denied having "any conversation or discussion with or lobbied the Prime Minister, or indeed the Health Secretary or the health minister, on plain packaging or tobacco issues".
The Prime Minister will not be able to move on from the Lobbying row until he answers questions over Lynton Crosby's influence on government policy, according to a public relations expert.
Kevin Craig, from Political Lobbying and Media Relations, said Lyton Crosby's involvement in government policy "looks wrong and and doesn't feel right" and called on the Prime Minister to provide answers.
The NHS links pre-dated David Cameron hiring Mr Crosby however it is the second time the Prime Minister has had to defend his controversial election strategist over claims of lobbying.
Mr Cameron has insisted that Mr Crosby had not intervened in policy decisions, but has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the extent of his conversations with the lobbyist.
The Prime Minister has come under sustained pressure to say whether Mr Crosby, whose lobbying company has also worked for tobacco giant Philip Morris, had spoken to him about shelving the plan for cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.
The Guardian published extracts from a slideshow presentation produced for the H5 Private Healthcare Alliance, which stated that people believe the NHS provides good healthcare, though they believe it was "too bureaucratic with long waiting lists".
Crosby Textor advised its client that 63% of those questioned in a poll conducted for the presentation believed that "going private frees up the NHS waiting list".
The paper said the presentation was made by Crosby Textor, known as CTF Partners in Britain, towards the end of 2010, just months before the Health and Social Care Bill was given its second reading in the House of Commons in January 2011.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham claimed there was a "shocking conflict of interest" at the heart of his administration:
Latest ITV News reports
One key question remains about David Cameron's election strategist's influence over Government policy. So why does the PM keep dodging it?