Mark Fullbrook: who is Liz Truss aide, is he paid by No 10, FBI probe explained - why is he a witness?

Mark Fullbrook, the Downing Street chief of staff, is a witness in an FBI investigation

Downing Street has confirmed it will employ Liz Truss’s chief of staff Mark Fullbrook directly after it emerged he was being paid through his lobbying company.

Mr Fullbrook is the chief of staff at Downing Street, and was recently revealed to be a witness in an FBI probe.

She has given her “full support” to Mr Fullbrook with a spokesperson saying she stands 100% behind him.

Who is Mark Fullbrook?

Mr Fullbrook a political strategist and lobbyist. He is a former deputy head of the Conservative Party serving in that role between 1988 and 1992 during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher and then John Major.

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He went on to work as head of campaigning for the party. From May 2010 to May 2022 he was a partner and chief global projects officer for CT Group along with Sir Lynton Crosby. Sir Lynton is also a political strategist who has managed electoral campaigns is several countries. He managed the Conservative general election campaigns in 2005, 2015 and 2017.

Between May and September this year Mr Fullbrook established his own consultancy firm of which he was CEO - Fullbrook Strategies Limited. The firm advised Liz Truss during the Conservative leadership race. Fullbrook Strategies ceased trading just before he was appointed to his Downing Street role.

Number 10 Chief of Staff Mark Fullbrook leaving after a meeting with the new Prime Minister Liz Truss at Downing Street, pictured on 7 September.

What is his role?

As Downing Street chief of staff Mr Fullbrook is a senior aide to Liz Truss. The role is the most senior political appointee in the office of the Prime Minister and is a non-ministerial position.

The post holder controls access to the Prime Minister and their staff. Although responsibilities can vary it usually sees the chief of staff involved in the forming and implementing of policies as well as advising the Prime Minister.

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Why has he been interviewed as a witness by the FBI?

Mr Fullbrook is assisting the FBI as a witness as part of a bribery investigation that has seen the arrest of the former governor of Puerto Rico.

Mr Fullbrook had been working for CT Group when the firm was hired to provide research in 2020 for Julio Herrera Velutini, a Venezuelan-Italian banker who is accused of bribing the former governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vazquez Garced.

Last month, Vazquez Garced was arrested and is also facing bribery charges related to the financing of her 2020 campaign.

The US Department of Justice indictment alleges that Herrera Velutini and another individual, Mark Rossini, paid more than $300,000 to political consultants in support of Vazquez Garced’s campaign. It is alleged that in exchange she took action to demand the resignation of a regulator investigating Herrera Velutini’s bank.

A spokesperson for Mr Fullbrook said he obeyed the law in all countries where he worked and that he was confident he had done so in this case, too.

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They said: “Mark Fullbrook is a witness in this matter and has fully, completely and voluntarily engaged with the US authorities in this matter, as he would always do in any circumstance in which his assistance is sought by authorities.”

The spokesperson added: “The work was engaged only by Mr Herrera and only to conduct opinion research for him and no one else. Mr Fullbrook never did any work for, nor presented any research findings to, the governor or her campaign. There has been no engagement since.”

What has Liz Truss said?

Mr Fullbrook did not travel to the United Nations summit in New York with the Prime Minister, but No 10 insisted it is because he was working on government business, which this week includes announcements on help for businesses with their energy costs and a mini budget.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Prime Minister stands 100% behind Mr Fullbrook and “he has her full support”.

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Is he employed by Downing Street?

Mr Fullbrook will be put on a special advisor contract to avoid “any ongoing speculation”, a No 10 spokesperson said early on Tuesday.

The Cabinet Office had previously said it was “not unusual” for a special adviser to join Government “on secondment” and that his salary was paid to a “seconding company”.

No 10 did not deny that Liz Truss’s top aide received payments through Fullbrook Strategies, a private lobbying firm he set up in April, as The Sunday Times reported.

A spokesperson for Mr Fullbrook previously denied speculation that the arrangement allows him to pay less tax.

The spokesperson said: “This is not an unusual arrangement. It was not put in place for tax purposes and Mr Fullbrook derives no tax benefit from it.”

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No 10’s spokesperson on Tuesday said: “While there are established arrangements for employees to join government on secondment, to avoid any ongoing speculation Mark Fullbrook will be employed directly by the government on a special adviser contract.

“All government employees, including those joining on secondment, are subject to the necessary checks and vetting, and all special advisers declare their interests in line with Cabinet Office guidance.”