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One of Britain’s most influential lobbyists secretly served as an adviser to a health minister for six months — before (or while) sending sensitive information on lockdown policy to paying clients.

George Pascoe-Watson is chairman of Portland Communications, a lobbying firm that represents pharmaceutical companies, weapons manufacturers and banks.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) appointed Pascoe-Watson, 55, a former journalist, as an adviser during the pandemic’s first wave on April 9 without announcing the move.

He participated in daily strategic discussions chaired by Lord Bethell, a hereditary peer and former lobbyist who serves as test and trace minister, for six months. Bethell, 53, was a surprise appointment in March having chaired Matt Hancock’s leadership campaign in 2019 and giving a £5,000 donation