Sovereign Strategy Ltd.

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Sovereign Strategy Ltd. is a UK policy and lobbying shop, with strong connections to the Labour Party.

On its website, Sovereign makes much of its links with the Labour Party. On the 'Latest News' page in mid November 2004, every photograph was either of a senior Labour Party figure, or taken at a Labour Party event [1]. Alan J Donnelly, Sovereign's Executive Chairman, is a former Labour Party Leader in the European Parliament [2].

The entry in the Register of Members's Interests for Tony Blair's election coordinator Alan Milburn reveals that sometime in 2004, Sovereign Strategy paid him between £5,001 and £10,000 for a "speech and follow-up internal roundtable" [3].


According to Donnelly:

The company has grown a lot over the previous five years, we started off with a £40,000 contract, operating from a converted bathroom in my house in South Shields, and now we've got offices in Brussels and Trafalgar Square, as well as one in the north east. We're expanding our office in Brussels and we have a new affiliate in the USA.[1]
We have 20 full-time staff and a series of advisers. We've built up a group of experts who specialise in different fields. Then we have a series of associate directors who work with us on specific accounts. On top of that, we have our non-executive directors who bring their sage advice and demonstrate that the business is being run properly. It's very important when you're managing someone else's reputation that you can show your reputation is pretty sound. We're constantly looking for expertise that will apply to a particular client. Sport has been a very big sector for us.[1]

Not a member of the APPC

Donnelly, 48, is a Blairite who worked for the GMB union and headed the Labour group in the European parliament until he resigned his seat in 2000 and set up Sovereign.
It is one of the few lobbying firms that has not joined the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), a professional body that bars payments to MPs or peers.
Gill Morris, who chairs the APPC, said: “We promote complete transparency and a total ban on paying legislators. I believe there are paid legislators and peers on Sovereign’s books. It is not operating in a wholly transparent fashion.”[2]

Pro-nuclear work

David Miliband, the new environment secretary, was embroiled in a sleaze row over his links to a nuclear industry lobbyist.
The lobbyist — Alan J Donnelly — chairs the minister’s local constituency party. He also helped to pay for the refurbishment of Miliband’s constituency party headquarters in Newcastle. The cabinet minister has appeared at events organised by the lobbyist...
Sovereign Strategy, Donnelly’s lobbying firm, represents the US multinational Fluor, one of the world’s biggest nuclear companies, which is hoping to win a stake in the £70 billion British nuclear waste market.
Senior Fluor executives and government ministers, including Blair, have attended events organised by Sovereign Strategy. The lobbying firm’s marketing material boasts that it provides “guidance on legislation issues in the field of environmental performance”.
Donnelly also founded and helps to run the Transatlantic Nuclear Energy Forum (Tanef), an organisation that aims to foster “strong relationships” between nuclear power companies and governments.
Documents show that Sovereign Strategy paid £2,000 for building works at a terraced house in South Shields, Tyneside, which serves as headquarters of the local Labour party and contains Miliband’s constituency office.
The building was refurbished last year although Donnelly said yesterday that his company’s money was used only for improvements to kitchen facilities used by party workers. He had “no idea” whether Miliband used the facilities.
The payment has been declared to the Electoral Commission, which oversees donations and election expenses, but Miliband has not declared it in the Commons’ register of members’ interests as is normal practice for MPs receiving financial help in their constituencies.
The Commons rules state that any “donation received by a member’s constituency association which is linked either to candidacy at an election or to membership of the House” must be registered.[2]

Formula one racing controversy


What's your official involvement with Bernie Ecclestone (Chief Executive, Formula One Management Ltd), and Max Mosley (President, Federation Internationale De l'Automobile), and how's life at the centre of F1 politics?


I'm the official representative for Max to Formula One. I go to a lot of the grands prix, and basically my job is to brief Max on the politics in the paddock, and, as I say, that's probably more political than most national parliaments. I also advise him on the politics in the host country and how that affects the races. The FIA President meets the top ministers from the countries where F1 lands. We also give the FIA a full government and European affairs service.[4]
Richard Caborn, the sports minister, has been fantastically supportive of the project. He spent a lot of time brokering agreements between different people. The East Midlands Development Agency has also been wonderful in terms of viewing Silverstone as a potential centre of excellence. We're pretty hopeful that the message we've tried to put across, that Silverstone needs development, has been understood.

In response to an FoI request on meeting between the DCMS and Sovereign Strategy in the previsou year (issued 19 September 2005) the DCMS stated:

'there were two meetings between Richard Caborn and Alan Donnelly during the past 12 months: 23 November 2004 and 11 July 2005. Discussions at these meetings covered the following issues: a) an update on Silverstone and the potential development of the site b) the future of Formula 1 in the UK; and c) safety in motorsport.[3]


Sovereign has a number of very close Labour links, but alos includes former Conservative representatives, such as the Conservative Olga Maitland. From Sovereign's website as of 16 February 2006[5]:

  • Alan J Donnelly Executive Chairman Founder of Sovereign. Was Labour Party Leader in the European Parliament, and served as President of the Parliamentary Committee for Relations with the US Congress.
  • Iain Malcolm Chief Executive Career in local government. Previously Chief of Staff to the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party.
  • Walter Brinkmann Non-Executive Director Over the last ten years created, built and managed for the Coca-Cola Company their European Affairs Office in Brussels and a European governmental affairs network within the EU and the candidate countries.
  • Freddie Fletcher Deputy Chairman Chief Executive of Newcastle United Football Club until May 2000. Consultant, Mercer Street Marketing Consulting, Non-Executive Director of Home Housing and Non-Executive Director of Metnor Plc.
  • Leslie Butterfield Associate Director Founder of Butterfield8, the strategic brand consultancy. Leslie is one of the UK advertising industry's most respected strategists.
  • Andrew Kelly Company Secretary Early career in the retail sector. Responsible for the company's financial affairs and overseeing Sovereign's Corporate Ethic strategy.
  • Michael Lloyd MA (Cantab) Associate Director Previously an Economic Advisor to the European Parliament on economic and monetary union. Deputy Director with responsibility for public policy and for the Alliance of Maritime Regional Interests in Europe (AMRIE).
  • Professor Tom Donnelly Associate Director Special Advisor on Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Public Safety.
  • Rudolf Beger Associate Director Senior consultant with vast experience in a number of key strategic fields including oil, chemical, automotive and financial services.
  • Hugh Morgan-Williams Associate Director A committed European with wide media, manufacturing and service sector business interests. A national figure in a diverse range of business-led organisations.
  • Neva Brahmbhatt London Office Manager Prior to joining Sovereign was the PA to the Secretary General of the European Parliamentary Labour Party from 1996 to 1999.
  • Mark Nellist Head of North East Operations Former Head of Communications to the Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party. Has considerable experience in local and national government affairs.
  • Rt Hon The Lord Jack Cunningham of Felling Non Executive Director As a senior Member of Parliament Jack Cunningham has held many prominent positions within both Opposition and Government. He joins the Board to advise the Executive Management Team on international, commercial affairs.
  • Lady Olga Maitland Associate Director Former Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam (1992-1997) Lady Olga Maitland is respected in the areas of both Politics and Journalism. Lady Olga is a specialist on the Middle East and International affairs in general. Founder and chair of Families for Defence and President of the Defence Security Forum.
  • Baroness Billingham Non-Executive Director Prominent member of The House of Lords and former MEP for Northampton and Blaby. Informal spokesperson for the Labour party on culture, media and sport. Was a member of the European Select Committee until 2005.
  • Carole Tongue Associate Director Former Member of the European Parliament and a former Parliamentary spokesperson on Media, Broadcasting, Education and Sport. Honorary Doctorate, University of Lincoln. Member of the UNESCO National Committee on Communication and Information Visiting Professor, University of the Arts
  • Alan Davidson Associate Director After working in the Labour Party's Corporate Relations and Fundraising unit, Alan was asked to set up the London public affairs operation of a US law firm. As well as establishing the UK company and office, he oversaw the press monitoring for clients' European matters and advised senior executives on political and media issues. resume
  • Cesar Scigliano Associate Director After graduating in marketing, Cesar Scigliano developed a diverse career in business management, foreign trade partnerships, industrial and commercial promotion. He has worked with the European Commission and many of the top companies, trade associations and trades unions in Brazil.
  • Jane Nottage Associate Director Jane Nottage is an international PR and media consultant specializing in Formula One and the car industry and advising several Formula One sponsors on their strategic communications programs.


From Sovereign's website as of 18 November, 2004 [6]:

Contact information

London office [7]:

60 Trafalgar Square,
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7930 6353
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7839 4564
Email: alan.donnelly AT



  1. 1.0 1.1 Interview with Alan Donnelly, Executive Chairman of Sovereign Strategy Euractiv, Published: Tuesday 10 May 2005.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Robert Winnett, Whitehall Correspondent Revealed: minister's links to nuclear lobby, Sunday Times, May 14, 2006.
  3. DCMS Freedom of Information Requests, "Meetings Between Ministers and Sovereign Strategy", September 19, 2005.

SourceWatch resources

External links

  • "Sovereign power", Private Eye No 1139, 19 August-1 September 2005, p. 27.