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Phorm director advises UK.gov broadband minister

Conflicts denied as Amazon opts out

Carter and Meek also worked together at Ofcom, where the former was chief executive and the latter was a senior partner tipped for the succession.

Meek didn't get the nod, but the now reunited pair work together on Digital Britain with help from David Hendon, a senior civil servant who appeared at the launch of the interim report in late January.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that while Hendon has been working alongside Carter and Meek on the Digital Britain report, he has also coordinated the UK's correspondence with the European Commission over Phorm's secret trials. Hendon also had regular contact with BT regarding Phorm.

In October Hendon wrote to BT: "You may know there is a bit of a battle going on about our unwillingness to release, under the Freedom of Information Act, correspondence between the European Commission and the government and I am instructed I cannot give you a copy of our response either."

The Register's FOI request for the UK government's response was rejected, but BT was apparently given a verbal summary. "I would be willing to discuss the line we took with you when we meet this week," Hendon wrote to the undisclosed BT employee. Like Phorm's Meek, Hendon is working on the final Digital Britain report.

Meanwhile, Carter has limited his direct public pronouncements on Phorm to describing it as an "interesting and innovative business" to a parliamentary committee in March. Prior to becoming a peer via a stint leading the Number 10 strategy unit, Carter was chief executive of PR and lobbying group Brunswick, whose current clients include Phorm.

Freedom of Information disclosures by BERR show Carter met Phorm CEO Kent Ertugrul on November 18, before Meek's appointment to the firm's board. He was not involved in the Digital Britain report at that stage, according to BERR.

Even without his BERR role, several Reg industry contacts raised eyebrows when Meek took a job with Phorm. He is also chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), an arm of IT industry association Intellect that brings together ISPs, websites, equipment manufacturers and government.

Its members include Amazon.co.uk, the online retail giant, which announced today it did not want its traffic intercepted by Phorm's systems. Amazon told customers it had requested all its domains be opted out of interception.

When Meek joined Phorm in December, the BSG told The Register its members were satisfied there was no conflict of interest. ®

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