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Summary of Investigation – The Finsbury Group and Huawei

Wednesday 18th March 2020

February 2020

Organisation or Person Investigated

The Finsbury Group

Matter(s) Investigated

Whether The Finsbury Group failed to declare any consultant
lobbying activity on behalf of Huawei Technologies.

Registrar’s Decision

Whilst Huawei has been a paying client of The Finsbury Group, there is
no evidence that the latter conducted consultant lobbying activity for the former within the terms
of the legislation.

Summary of Rationale for Decision

The media article that initially raised questions identified that Huawei was a client of The Finsbury Group, that a senior official within the latter was the brother of a recent UK Government Minister, and that another senior official had stated on social media that they had been advising Huawei on strategy. Whilst these circumstances all create a context in which consultant lobbying that needs to be declared (i.e. personal communication by the consultant with a Minister, Permanent Secretary or equivalent, on behalf of a paying client) might take place, no evidence has been provided that declarable activity did in fact take place.
The Finsbury Group explicitly confirmed that no such communications were made by them on behalf of Huawei and the Private Eye article itself reports a similar explicit denial by the Minister in question.


4 February 2020

Office of the Registrar receives email from member of the public,
drawing attention to an article in issue 1515 of Private Eye,
concerning the role of ‘Finsbury PR’ in the UK Government’s
consideration of whether to allow Huawei to be part of the delivery of
5G services in the UK.
5-11 February
Consideration of the article by the Registrar.
12 February 2020 Letters sent to:
• Private Eye, specifying the statutory requirements relating to
consultant lobbying, the role of the Registrar, and requesting
any additional information and evidence they may have
relating to possible breach of those statutory requirements;
• The Finsbury Group, identifying the article, highlighting
statutory requirements on registrants, and requesting a
response to the concerns raised by the article.
18 February 2020 Reply from The Finsbury Group, explicitly states:
• Huawei was a client of theirs during the relevant period;
• The services provided to Huawei did not include personal
communications from The Finsbury Group to UK Government
Ministers or Permanent Secretaries (or equivalent); and
• No such communications had therefore been made on behalf of
Huawei since they had been a client of The Finsbury Group.
24 February 2020 Reply from Private Eye, stating that they had no information to provide
beyond what was contained in the published article. Registrar
determines that there is therefore no evidence of any breach of the
statutory requirements.

18 March 2020

Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists