A member of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism went to Bell Pottinger posing as a representative of the Uzbec government, interested in using the firm to clean up the country’s image.

According to a report in The Independent, Bell Pottinger executives boasted about their access to Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, Cameron’s policy chief Steve Hilton and Downing Street chief of staff Ed Llewellyn.

Tim Collins, managing director of Bell Pottinger, was apparently recorded saying:

“I’ve been working with people like Steve Hilton, David Cameron, George Osborne for 20 years-plus. There is not a problem getting the messages through,” he said.

Downing Street has denied the claims, saying: “Bell Pottinger nor any other lobbying firm has any say or influence over government policy.”

However, the Labour party says the investigation raises worrying questions about the government’s links to lobbyists.

“These are very serious allegations involving a former member of the Conservative frontbench as well as some of David Cameron’s closest confidants inside Downing Street and his cheerleaders in the media,” the Labour party said.

In secret recordings, Bell Pottinger is also said to have promised it could manipulate Google results to “drown” out negative coverage of human rights violations and child labour. Executives also claimed they had a team which “sorts” negative Wikipedia coverage of clients and keeps Google-friendly blogs, apparently from a third party, to support a regime.

“We’ve got all sorts of dark arts,” Collins said.

He also went on to say that “there are a lot of people in Parliament who can’t stand Channel 4 and can’t stand Dispatches.

“So if there are any inaccuracies, even if they’re fairly minor, you can work with some people who have a track record of not liking Channel 4, wanting to score points against Channel 4 [who will say:] ‘Here is another instance of Channel 4 over-reaching themselves and putting out stuff they haven’t properly checked’.”

On its website, Bell Pottinger describes its services: “We offer a broad range of services: strategic counsel, issues and crisis management, reputation management, contact programmes, research and analysis, regulatory advice, campaign management, political monitoring, intelligence gathering and communications audits.”