A Tory MP’s new £568 per hour job with a ‘lobbying powerhouse’ stinks to high heaven

Nicholas Soames
Support us and go ad-free

Former government minister Nicholas Soames has taken a £568-an-hour job with one of the US’s biggest lobbying firms. Soames is the Mid Sussex Conservative MP.

BGR Group is described by the Washington Post as a “lobbying powerhouse”. It’s hired the MP as a senior advisor on business development and strategy. The group claims to be a specialist in “creating, implementing and changing public policy”.

Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, can now expect to receive around £367,000 a year. It gives the veteran Conservative one of the highest annual registered earnings in parliament.

BGR Group

Soames will earn £68,196 a year in his new role with BGR. The firm boasts of “providing market access” for US companies abroad.

On its website, BGR claims itself to be:

A bipartisan lobbying firm… Whether you seek new legislation, need to modify regulation, or want to put a stop to adverse legislation, we have the skills to achieve results under the most difficult circumstances.

Research group Open Secrets found BGR lobbies on behalf of firms in fields such as defence, pharmaceuticals, gambling, and fossil fuels. It also names the governments of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Ukraine, and India amongst BGR’s clients.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The Washington based lobbying giant cut ties with Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. It previously had a $80,000-a-month contract with the Saudi government.

The Canary contacted Nicholas Soames’ office and BGR for comment. BGR said:

BGR Group London LLP business activities focuses on business development and consultancy work. We assist clients in a number of ways including strategy or identifying new financial or technical partners for their ventures. Our transactions have cut across several sectors including the telecoms sector, energy and the sports sector, and currently we are working on oil & gas transactions and renewable energy.

As a Senior adviser to the UK firm, Sir Nicholas’s extensive UK and international experience will assists us where relevant in the mandates described, and is fully compliant with all the rules of parliament, and has been so Registered with the Register of Interests.

Mercenaries

Aside from his work with BGR, Soames brings home £110,000 a year as a senior advisor for GardaWorld, formerly AEGIS Defence Services. The company recruits and provides private security and military personnel.

AEGIS has been embroiled in many scandals over the years. In 2016, allegations surfaced that it recruited child soldiers from Sierra Leone as mercenaries in Iraq. The soldiers were paid as little as £11 a day.

AEGIS was also at the centre of the ‘trophy’ video scandal. An ex-employee of the firm posted a video showing AEGIS contractors shooting at civilian cars with machine guns. AEGIS opened an investigation but found the operation was “legitimate”. GardaWorld bought the firm in 2015.

Soames, who voted for the Iraq war, has been a director of AEGIS since 2005.

Cash in the bank

Overall, the former minister will now bring in approximately £367,760 a year. That includes his £77,379 MP’s salary, but not the accompanying expenses, or additional speaking jobs.

The MP earns £97,185 a year as a senior advisor to financial services outfit MMC Group. He also receives £15,000 a year as a non-executive director of Aggregated Micro Power. Soames’ four jobs, outside of his role as a public servant, total around £290,380 per year.

It is currently unclear exactly what the MP’s ‘senior adviser’ role at BGR will entail. However, with five jobs now on his plate, it is hard to see how the constituents he was elected to represent will get the benefit.

Featured image via Chris McAndrew – Wikimedia 

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us