House Of Lords Sleaze Watchdog Launches Probe Into UK Climate Change Chief John Gummer

John Selwyn GummerThe Lords sleaze watchdog has launched a formal investigation into claims that John Selwyn Gummer failed to declare more than £600,000 of payments made to his private company by ‘green’ businesses that stand to profit from his advice to Ministers.

Five MPs lodged a complaint with Standards Commissioner Lucy Scott-Moncrieff following last week’s Mail on Sunday revelations about the business interests of the Tory peer, who chairs the influential Climate Change Committee (CCC).

Just hours later, she announced her inquiry into allegations he may have breached the code of conduct rules.

The CCC has backed taxpayer-funded subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy projects, and last week we disclosed how Gummer’s family consultancy firm Sancroft International had been paid by businesses working in the same field.

It is understood that a dossier submitted to the Commissioner by the MPs – Labour’s Graham Stringer and Tories David Davies, Nadine Dorries, Craig Mackinlay, and Andrea Jenkyns – included details of our investigation as well as claims that he failed to properly declare his financial interests when speaking in a number of debates in the Lords.

Gummer, who became Lord Deben in 2010 after a 35-year Commons career, last night said that he ‘welcomes the fact that an independent person will be looking into these allegations’.

He has previously denied any conflict of interest or failure to comply with disclosure rules.

The CCC declined to say whether the 79-year-old would be suspended while the inquiry is conducted.

The Lords investigation announced on Friday was sparked by our revelations last weekend that Sancroft had been paid by at least nine businesses and campaign groups involved in projects to cut greenhouse gases.

While the peer – who as Agriculture Minister famously fed his four-year-old daughter Cordelia a beefburger at the height of the BSE crisis in 1990 – has declared his chairmanship of Sancroft, he has not publicly declared any of the payments made to it by ‘green’ firms which could have benefited from policies supported by the CCC.

Documents leaked to this newspaper showed such payments included almost £300,000 over five years from Johnson Matthey, an engineering firm that makes batteries for electric cars; £50,000 from Temporis Capital, venture capitalists with interests in wind farms and solar energy; and £15,500 from Drax, a green energy producer that receives £700 million a year in Government subsidies.

It is understood that Lord Deben considers allegations that there has been any conflict of interest or impropriety as false and misconceived and believes that he has made disclosures in line with advice received from the House of Lords and the CCC.

His position is also understood to be that Sancroft’s work for Johnson Matthey did not relate to electric cars, that the payment by Drax had been cleared by the CCC and that his links with Temporis did not constitute a conflict because only briefings, rather than advice, had been provided.

The CCC was created in 2008 to offer independent advice to the Government on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

It has urged Ministers to fund large subsidies for ‘renewable’ energy firms by adding ‘green’ levies – currently totaling £8.6 billion a year – to fuel bills.

Read more at Daily Mail

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