As part of his review of the structure and funding of local government, the inquiry has been holding the events in order to gauge public opinion on local accountability and the council tax system.
However, attendees have been pre-selected by the inquiry with assistance from the relevant councils. Members of the press have been forbidden from attending.
Furthermore Sir Michael himself will not be present at any of the events.
'If the public and media are going to be excluded from the events then it is clearly a sham PR exercise,' he said. 'The political elite need to reconnect with voters and this is a fantastic opportunity for Lyons to lead the way. He shouldn't waste it.'
Eric Pickles, shadow minister for local government, said:
'I am very surprised by this. I met with Sir Michael recently and he seemed remarkably keen to hear what the public had to say. I would urge him to reconsider.'
A spokesman for the inquiry denied it had misled the public. 'We were very clear that these are public engagement events rather than public events, I realise this is semantics but we wanted small focused meetings, a bit like a focus group.'