Revealed: The 15 Former UK Civil Servants Now Lobbying Government for Oil and Gas

More than a dozen employees currently working in government relations for oil and gas companies used to work for the British government, reveals Greenpeace’s investigations team.

The findings highlight the cosy relationship between the fossil fuel industry and the government at a time when UK policy continues to become increasingly favourable to gas.

Both big oil and the British Government continually emphasise the climate benefits of switching from coal to gas – a line heard frequently ahead of the Paris climate talks in both government speeches and industry press releases.

Gas Lobby

The Greenpeace investigation shows that oil and gas giants spent tens of millions of pounds lobbying key decision makers over the past few years ahead of global climate talks and significant changes to UK energy policy.

And much of this saw industry figures lobbying the very people they used to work with.

Between October 2013 and March 2015 oil and gas firms held more than 143 meetings with ministers according to Greenpeace’s analysis of accounts, LinkedIn, and other data.

One of the most interesting examples of those UK government employees who now work for the oil and gas industry is Sean Winnett, who now leads ‘UK government relations’ for Shell.

Before this, Winnett worked as the private secretary to the former Conservative leader William Hague, and Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Another Shell employee responsible for international government relations, Peter Webb, used to work in the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) up until May 2014.

And, British Gas owner Centrica employs three people with links to the Conservative Party in its communications team.

Here, DeSmog UK takes a look at the revolving door between the UK Government and Britain’s big oil and gas firms.


Sean Winnett MBE, Head of Government Relations UK for Shell. Winnett received an MBE as a result of his 10 years’ experience in Whitehall, which included two years as private secretary to William Hague and Philip Hammond in the Foreign Office. He also worked in the Cabinet Office.

Peter Webb, International Government Relations International for Shell. Prior to his job at Shell, Webb served as the Industry Secondee for DECC between March 2012 and May 2014.

Nabhan Malik, Government Relations for Shell. Malik was a No. 10 intern in February 2014.

Thomas S A Reilly, Special Advisor International Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations for Shell. Reilly was previously deputy ambassador in Egypt for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) between March 2010 and October 2012. Prior to that he was an FCO desk officer from 1998 to 2006.

BG Group

Phil Murphy, Vice-President & Global Head of Government and Public Affairs at BG Group. Murphy was a special advisor to former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2000-01.

Rob Macaire, Director of Government and Public Affairs & Political Risk at BG Group. He has worked for both the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence (but no dates are indicated on his LinkedIn account).

Centrica and British Gas

Sarah Richardson, Director of Public Affairs at Centrica Energy. Before becoming Centrica’s director of public affairs in September 2014, Richardson was a Conservative Party election candidate for the European Parliament in 2004 and 2009, and ran to be an MP in 2005. She was also a long-time Conservative Westminster councillor.

Benedict McAleenan, Public Affairs Manager at Centrica Energy. He was formerly Tory campaigns manager from October 2006 to September 2010.

William Heald, Head of Public Affairs at Centrica Energy. Heald interned for William Hague in 2008 – at this time Hague worked as the Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Lisa Poole, Director of Public Affairs at British Gas. Between 1994 and 1998 Poole worked as a senior environment advisor for the Liberal Democrats.

Other Big Players

Richard Morgan, Head of Government Relations at Anglo American. He was head of public diplomacy at the Foreign Office from 2008 to 2010.

Rosie Donachie, Head of Government Relations and Public Policy, Europe at BHP Billiton. Donachie was previously a senior advisor in the Prime Minister’s strategy unit from 2008 to 2011.

Caoimhe Buckley, Acting Vice President of Communications at BHP Billiton. Between 2009 and 2012 Buckly worked as the head of press at UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) – this department helps coordinate relations between industry and government.

Paul Hodgson, Head of Media Relations at Drax. Prior to his role at Drax, Hodgson was a special advisor to DECC from February 2013 to April 2014.


Matt Hinde, Senior Vice-President and Head of Energy at FleishmanHillard, whose clients include Shell and BP.

Last October, Hinde made the move from DECC where he worked as head of EU strategy, to his new role at one of Europe’s most powerful lobby groups. At DECC, Hinde worked on key EU energy policy including the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, and the Energy Union.

At the time of his move to FleishmanHillard, Hinde said: “I am looking forward to helping [energy companies] navigate this changing policy environment at a time of business disruption for many industry players.”

Want to know more? You can dig into all of the data compiled by Greenpeace about the gas industry’s lobby efforts here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons