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Osborne refuses to answer questions over Crosby's role

Chancellor George Osborne, who is also the Conservatives' election chief, refused to reveal when exactly an agreement was reached to ensure the party's election adviser Lynton Crosby did not use his role to influence ministers and aides on behalf of his lobbying firms.

The Prime Minister had come under sustained pressure to say whether Mr Crosby, whose lobbying company has worked for tobacco giant Philip Morris, had spoken to him about shelving the plan for cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

On Tuesday, Mr Crosby denied the claims as "simply false." The Cabinet Secretary has also dismissed Labour calls for an inquiry.

But Mr Osborne refused to answer repeated questions from Economics Editor Richard Edgar over when the "principles of engagement" document was agreed:

'No conflict with ministerial code' in Crosby talks

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:

Mr Crosby is not employed by the Government. He is contracted by the Conservative Party.

He has not been granted permission to have access to Government papers or attend Government meetings. Nor does he advise or lobby on Government business, such as the regulation of cigarette packaging or fracking.

His role, as I understand it, is to advise the Conservative Party and any meetings he may have had with the Prime Minister are on this basis, which is not in itself a conflict with the ministerial code.

– Sir Jeremy Heywood


Labour: Crosby statement 'baffling'

Labour vice-chairman Michael Dugher said Lynton Crosby's statement denying he lobbied the Government on tobacco issues "raises more questions than it answers":

This baffling statement raises more questions than it answers. David Cameron has refused to deny that he has had a conversation with Lynton Crosby about tobacco policy on at least 16 occasions. If Lynton Crosby is telling the truth, why on earth couldn't David Cameron say this himself?

The fact remains that David Cameron chose to bring a tobacco lobbyist into the heart of his Government, changed his policy on cigarette packaging and was then unable to give a straight answer about Lynton Crosby's influence.

– Michael Dugher

Lynton Crosby: Tobacco lobbying claims 'simply false'

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:

The Prime Minister has repeatedly and clearly said that I have never lobbied him on anything, including on the issue of tobacco or plain packaging of cigarettes.

What the PM said should be enough for any ordinary person but to avoid any doubt or speculation, let me be clear.

At no time have I had 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.

Indeed, any claim that I have sought to improperly use my position as part-time campaign adviser to the Conservative Party is simply false.

– Lynton Crosby


PM must answer Crosby questions to 'move on'

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.

Crosby NHS talk pre-dated Cameron advisor role

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.

Read more: PM denies cigarette conflict

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