openDemocracyUK

Mapped – hard Brexit guru Singham's 'unparalleled' access to government

As Shanker Singham steps down from advising the Brexit trade department following openDemocracy's revelations of a potential conflict of interest, we reveal the full extent of his government access.

Peter Geoghegan Jenna Corderoy
Peter Geoghegan Jenna Corderoy
25 June 2018
Shanker Singham
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Image: Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Last week, openDemocracy broke the news that Shanker Singham had begun advising PR and lobbying firm Grayling about Brexit. The appointment raised eyebrows: the former Washington lobbyist, who rose to prominence at the controversial think tank Legatum, was also a member of Brexit minister Liam Fox's trade advisory team. Singham insisted there was "no conflict" between the two roles. Transparency campaigners said there was a "glaring conflict of interest".

Today news has broken that Singham, who also heads a trade unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has stood down from the "committee of experts" advising the Department for International trade. Singham, who has been described as the "hard Brexit Svengali", has emerged as one of the most influential voices in Brexiter circles.

Data compiled by openDemocracy also shows that since the Brexit vote in June 2016, Singham has also had dozens of meetings with British government ministers including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Steve Baker, as well as Fox. The meetings and events were either unminuted or information relating to them was withheld by government departments. Singham also had undeclared meetings with Brexit ministers, according to Buzzfeed reports.

Here, for the first time, is the full extent and details of Singham's connections with government ministers and officials. There is no allegation of any wrong-doing in these meetings.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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