AN economic think tank that "incubated" Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng as junior MPs has been found to have appeared on UK media an average of 14 times a day in the last year.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), an influential think tank based in Paris, has increased its public appearances by almost 50% since 2019, according to investigative journalist Peter Geoghegan.

The institute’s latest annual accounts, released earlier this week, show that it had 5265 media hits in the past year, 43% higher than its previous peak in 2019.

The accounts also detail the number of former IEA staff now working in the UK media.

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They state: “The team saw the departure of Emily Carver to GB News and Annabel Denham to the Telegraph, joining our growing pool of alumni with promising careers in British media."

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SNP MP Alyn Smith (below) has written to Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, and the head of Ofcom, Melanie Dawes, requesting reassurance that they “view the relevant guidelines as fit for purpose” to ensure any agenda of dark money think tanks “are apparent to the viewer or listener.”

The National: Alyn Smith

Smith wrote: "As you will be aware, one such institution – the Institute of Economic Affairs – reported on their latest accounts that that they had 5265 media hits last year, an increase of 43% from the year before.

"I should state I appreciate your position in supporting free speech, fair comment and informed debate. I have no difficulty with any person or organisation setting up to advocate for the interests of private funders. In the absence of German-style public funding, it is perhaps inevitable that many think tanks depend heavily on donors, and I can see the argument that many wish to retain their anonymity.

"Some of it is I daresay quite innocent. That being said, surely such organisations being platformed by broadcasters, and the BBC in particular, should be fully transparent about who is paying them and who they represent."

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The Guardian previously reported that the IEA has taken donations from the fossil fuel industry while OpenDemocracy revealed it also took cash from the tobacco industry.

The IEA's website reads: "The Institute is entirely independent of any political party or group, and is entirely funded by voluntary donations from individuals, companies and foundations who want to support its work."

In 2018, Unearthed reported that the IEA offered to broker access to UK ministers for US donors seeking to influence Brexit

In 2019, the Charity Commission warned the organisation about using its resources to campaign for a hard Brexit. The warning was later withdrawn after the IEA agreed to work with the commission to improve its conduct following “a breach of charity law”.

The National: Liz Truss

And in 2021, it lost a two-year court battle with LBC radio host James O'Brien who claimed the IEA is a politically motivated lobbying firm funded by "dark money".

Following Kwasi Kwarteng's tax-cutting mini-budget in 2022, Conservative Home founder Tim Montgomerie tweeted: "A massive moment for [the Institute of Economic Affairs].

"They’ve been advocating these policies for years. They incubated Truss and Kwarteng during their early years as MPs. Britain is now their laboratory."