John Selwyn Trougher

Lord Deben, formerly known as John Selwyn Gummer, is chair of the Committee on Climate Change, which claims to provide “Independent advice to government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change”.

On various occasions in the past, Andrew Montford, at the now-dormant Bishop Hill blog, raised concerns about this alleged independence, pointing out that Deben had a financial interest in various companies that stood to profit from the advice he was giving (see for example here, here and here).

Deben is the Chairman of Sancroft, an “International Sustainability Consultancy”, and his son is a Director. A detailed article by David Rose in the Mail on Sunday reveals the extent of Lord Deben’s conflicts of interest and shows the money chain from the taxpayer or electricity bill payer to his pocket.

Engineering giant Johnson Matthey, which makes batteries for electric cars, paid Gummer’s firm nearly £300,000 over five years before he personally urged the Government to speed up plans to make all new cars on Britain’s roads battery-powered;

Venture capitalists Temporis Capital – whose profits from windfarms and solar energy projects are bolstered by huge Government subsidies – paid the company £50,000 between 2012 and 2017;

Controversial green energy producer Drax, which gets £700 million a year in Government subsidies, paid Sancroft £15,500 while the Climate Change Committee was writing a report on its activities.

Deben appears to be in denial of his conflicts, but David Rose politely points out that he is ‘mistaken’:

He admitted Sancroft had received the various payments from businesses which stood to benefit from the CCC’s decisions, but insisted they did not amount to conflicts because the work Sancroft did for them did not directly concern green technology.

However, the businesses are heavily involved in this field.

The strict code of conduct for members of public bodies such as the CCC, issued by the Cabinet Office, suggests he is mistaken.

This states: ‘You must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between your public duties and your private interests.’

There’s a follow-up story in the Mail today by Dominic Lawson, and the story is also in The Times. Predictably, there’s nothing from the BBC, though just two weeks ago, Roger Harrabin was unquestioningly promoting Lord Deben’s call for 60% of new cars to be electric. I wonder if Roger will report that Sancroft took £300k from a company that makes batteries for electric cars?

Guido Fawkes has a post on the story, noting

Despite the scale of the scandal, numerous news organisations, including the BBC, have entirely failed to cover it so far. Guido hears that the usual cabal of eco-journalists at are steering clear of this story for fear of consequences from the well connected Gummer….

 

Update 9th Feb:

Lord Deben is now being investigated by the House of Lords commissioner for standards, for “alleged breach of the Code in relation to registration and declaration of interests.”

Hence there’s another article by David Rose, Lords sleaze watchdog launches probe into claims Tory peer and climate change chief John Gummer failed to declare more than £600,000 of payments made to his family firm from ‘green’ businesses

Apparently five MPs, including well known Labour climate sceptic Graham Stringer, made complaints to the commissioner.

 

24 thoughts on “John Selwyn Trougher

  1. Rose’s story was front page, main headline in the paper version of the Mail on Sunday, I learned late yesterday on popping into a local fast-food joint. (I know, I shouldn’t have, I’m bad.) Truly powerful. Very well done David. I’ll put up a pic when I have the chance.

    I never did get to that pull-out on Eat to Beat Heart Disease.

    Like

  2. I won’t hear a word against Gummer. Without him feeding that burger to his daughter I might never have become a vegetarian.

    It is though telling that if you type Lord Deben into a search for news, you find the Mail, the Times, and Energy Live News as the only coverage. At the risk of ideating a conspiracy or sommat, I think there is a real story here (even if there is only smoke and no fire, under other conditions it would receive much wider coverage).

    There are similar attempts to swing the latest news about Nissan’s cancellation of the X-trail plant at Sunderland behind Brexit. Our current Environment Secretary has indicated that selling such cars will be outlawed in 21 years: not a great incentive to invest in a plant. Everything links together. Personally I think there will be a screeching U-turn on the ban on diesel and petrol cars, but too far down the road for this particular factory. The amazing thing to me is the general acquiescence to this bonkers policy hitherto.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think the first person to point out that John Gummer might be a dodgy character, well before Andrew Montford, was John Brignell on his NumberWatch site. He first noticed Gummer’s questionable environmental business activities in April 2001, when he was attacked by an employee of the Sancroft Group after writing an article that was critical of wind energy:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20171010083005/http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2001%20April.htm#Gummer

    “Like a circle in a spiral, like…….

    Further to the piece above, about the hysterical reaction of the European establishment to the outbreak sanity in the White House, there is a small addendum by this author in the weekly environmental news from SEPP. This is somewhat dwarfed by a reprinted article from Mark Steyn available at the same source.

    I highlighted the contribution of Michael Meacher, but Steyn drew attention to that of his predecessor:

    British Environment Secretary Michael Meacher said it could lead to the planet becoming “uninhabitable.” His predecessor John Gummer called it an assault on European sovereignty (whatever that is). Globally warming to his theme, he decided he wasn’t going to have Yankee imperialism shoved down his throat. “We are not going to allow our climate to be changed by somebody else,” he roared, threatening an international trade war against the United States. You go, girl! Why not refuse to sell the Yanks your delightful British beef?

    Oddly enough, after my last piece in TWTW, I came under attack for saying rude things about windmills. The source of this attack turned out to be an employee of The Sancroft Group. Who are the Sancroft Group? Well, I tracked down their web site and surprise, surprise, it tells me that:

    The SANCROFT Group was set up by the Rt Hon John Gummer MP. It provides top level advice and a complete range of services covering environmental strategy, sustainable development, ethics, and health and safety. The Group includes: SANCROFT, AMBIO, and EARTHCARE.

    I have complained frequently about the use of ad hominem attacks by the environmentalists (all their opponents are in the pay of the tobacco/chemical/fuel or alcohol industries) so I have to tread carefully, but is it unreasonable to express some discomfort at the cycle of connections here? Let us be clear, anyone, including an MP, has the right to set up any business he likes and draw profit from it. There would seem, however, to be a fundamental problem when a business is based on dubious propaganda about an insubstantial theory that elicits huge handouts from taxpayer funds. The windmill business, which is economic nonsense and incapable of independent existence without substantial help from the taxpayer, is such a case. If Mr Gummer has found a nice little earner in the environmental game, good luck to him, but if he also stokes up the rather wild propaganda on which it depends while wearing his MP hat, that is a different matter. Or am I being too fastidious?”

    I had to use the Wayback Machine to find the article as the NumberWatch website has been out of action for several months.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. All the good (though right wing) media cited above as raising questions about Lord Deben’s conflicts of interest are limited in their comments by their being serious media outlets subject to laws of libel.

    Fortunately I wasn’t so limited when I expressed my thoughts on the Gumboil a few years back:
    geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/lord-deben-and-his-pals/
    geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/dirty-deben-does-drugs-and-potty-talk/

    For once (or twice) I abandoned my normal polite reticence and said what I really think.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. H’mm, well, Aunty often uncritically reports alarming things with an air quote forcefield, e.g.:

    Climate change: Failure to tackle warming ‘suicidal’

    She could not be criticised for sommat like:

    Climate Change Committee Chair’s ‘conflict of interest’

    But what Mr. Harrabin should say is: “Hang on guys, I’ll just independently check the information and get back to you.”

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  6. Matt Ridley took him to task here: http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2014/3/12/the-works-of-lord-deben.html

    He was responsible, with Zac Goldsmith and Oliver Letwyn for the Blue Green Tory Party under David Cameron.

    “Cameron pledges tough measures on climate change”, By George Jones, Political Editor Telegraph.co.uk (Filed: 10/12/2005)

    “David Cameron promised yesterday that under his leadership the Conservative Party would be ready to take the “tough decisions” needed to cut Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming.

    He appointed Zac Goldsmith, an environmental and anti-globalisation campaigner, and John Gummer, a former Conservative environment secretary, to take charge of a new policy group looking at quality of life issues.

    Mr Cameron has highlighted the environment, and in particular climate change, as key concerns that he feels the Conservatives have previously neglected. He launched the policy review group at the London Wetland Centre bird reserve where he met members of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.”

    It was Cameron who specifically appointed Gummer as CCC chair in 2012.

    In 2007, he was chairman of the Conservative report called “Quality of Life – Blue print for a green economy”

    https://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/files/blueprint_for_a_green_economy110907b.pdf

    It had 549 pages, with lengthy quotes from AR4. On page 385, he speaks of the Climate Change Committee:

    9.3.2.5. The importance of the Climate Change Committee
    “We see the concept of an independent Climate Change Committee as very important against a background of political failure to establish the credibility of existing targets and policy frameworks. It is clear that the Government sees this body as simply an advisory body. We would be more ambitious.

    Our ultimate vision is that the Committee would have the credibility and accountability to Parliament to be the body that sets and revises both the targets and the key carbon budgets.

    In the interim period, our instinct is that targets and budgets should continue to be set by the elected government of the day and the Committee should be adequately resourced under an independent Chairman and Chief Executive (appointed after confirmation hearings in front of select committees) to give an independent view on:

    -the adequacy of the statutory targets in response to the evolving scientific evidence of the IPCC;

    -the adequacy of carbon budgets proposed by the government which will determine the key trajectory of cumulative emissions;

    -the appropriate limit for the purchase of overseas carbon credits to comply with UK obligations; and

    -the feasibility of meeting the carbon budget. This is critical if we are to avoid a repetition of this Government’s state of denial in relation to the 2010 target.

    It should also:

    -give an independent annual report on the performance of government. This will be very important if we accept the principle of five year carbon budgets in which case the mechanism for accountability for annual performance will be critical.

    In the absence of annual targets we believe that the Climate Change Committee should publish an annual benchmark against which the government performance should be judged; and have the ability to develop in the public domain some forward thinking on more controversial policy options which may be required, such as personal carbon trading.

    In this context they can perform a useful function for government. The Climate Change Committee should also be asked to give an early opinion on the adequacy of the 2020 and 2050 statutory targets.

    This should flow from judgements formed on the appropriate stabilisation target for concentration of greenhouse gases that is compatible with 2°C and transparent assumptions on an equitable share for the UK and other developed economies.”

    It seems he fancied the job even that far back and has got much of what he wanted in terms of power and influence of that Committee….

    The “personal carbon trading” came from Tyndall’s Kevin Anderson, who in 2005 was proposing carbon credit cards for every individual.

    As John Gummer, he was very much involved in Kyoto, and criticised the Clinton Administration:

    “…Mr Eizenstat, who cuts a hawkish figure, only arrived here a few days ago to take charge of the US delegation.

    Last night, he was accused by Britain’s former environment secretary, Mr John Gummer MP, of treating the talks in Kyoto as if they were “piddling trade negotiations over the price of beans when what’s at stake is the future of the planet and whether Bangladesh and numerous island states are to go underwater”.” (22 years on, whatever happened on that front?)

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/two-unlikely-bedfellows-are-apparently-left-to-do-the-deal-1.135762

    An account also of John Prescott’s efforts…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Thank you for this history Dennis. By 2013, after being in power for three years, Cameron was reported to be referring privately to these wonderful policies as ‘green crap’:

    David Cameron has ordered ministers to ditch the ‘green crap’ blamed for driving up energy bills and making business uncompetitive, it is claimed.

    The Prime Minister, who once pledged to lead the ‘greenest government ever’, has publicly promised to ‘roll back’ green taxes, which add more than £110 a year to average fuel bills.

    But a senior Tory source said Mr Cameron’s message in private is far blunter.

    The source said: ‘He’s telling everyone, “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.” He’s absolutely focused on it.’

    Tory high command has also privately abandoned Mr Cameron’s pre-election mantra ‘vote blue, go green’. ‘It’s vote blue, get real, now – and woe betide anyone who doesn’t get the memo,’ the source said.

    The Prime Minister’s comments relate to his bid to cut fuel bills by removing green taxes, the source said. But they will horrify environmental campaigners.

    But a senior Downing Street source said: ‘We do not recognise this phrase’.

    A guy called Michael Gove was very close to Cameron between 2005 to 2013 (their closeness going back to Oxford and Cameron’s encouragement to Gove to get into politics in the first place). I think the two faces suggested here shed a lot of light on mysteries about our current Environment Secretary. That’s from the Daily Mail on 21 November 2013.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Matt Ridley in The Times today (HT Barry)

    Lord Deben should come clean about his ties to business

    Imagine that a Conservative chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), tasked with giving impartial advice to the government, had a consultancy firm, but he said there were no conflicts of interest. Imagine that it then emerged that nine of that firm’s clients were oil companies that had paid it more than £600,000 during his tenure as chairman of the committee.

    Suppose the committee had recommended policies that were good for oil companies; and the chairman had been warned that a “clearly unethical” conflict of interest with one client would cause “embarrassment” if made public. Imagine that nevertheless the firm had since earned a further £37,000 from this client.

    The scandal would be a top story, not least at the BBC, and there would…

    Liked by 4 people

  9. That’s from October 2017. From Wikipedia:

    Perry was appointed as Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the Second May ministry, after the June 2017 reshuffle. Since a cabinet reshuffle carried out in January 2018 she has attended cabinet as part of her ministerial role.

    Good question, Golf Charlie.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Golf Charlie
    “Has anyone asked Claire Perry whether she continues to welcome Lord Deben?”

    Indeed she does, with funds in hand:

    http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/new-3-5m-research-network-to-support-uk-transition-to-a-low-carbon-economy/

    “The Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry, will today (31 January 2019) launch an initiative to create a network of new and extended city climate commissions in Edinburgh, Belfast and Leeds. The project aims to help the UK meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and the UK Climate Change Act by building local capacities and stimulating the flow of green finance into cities across the UK.

    The Place-based Climate Action Network (P-CAN) will help the local delivery of the UK’s climate change objectives by supporting action in UK cities through a partnership made up of the private, public and third sectors.

    The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is investing £3.5 million in P-CAN over the course of five years. It will be hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of Leeds, the University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University Belfast. It will seek to increase engagement between university researchers and the public, private and third sectors in tackling climate change.”

    The Place-based Climate Action Network can be found in Lord Deben’s current register of interests, below:

    https://www.parliament.uk/biographies/lords/lord-deben/4154/register-of-interests as “Chairman of Place-Based Climate Action Network advisory group.”

    It is another scion of Stern’s LSE Grantham Institute.

    https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=ES%2FS008381%2F1

    “The Place-Based Climate Action Network (P-CAN) seeks to strengthen the links between national and international climate policy and local delivery through place-based climate action. The Network is innovative in its focus on local decision making. Clear policy signals by the government are essential, but the key to continued climate action increasingly lies at the local level, with the participation of local actors, businesses and citizens.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lord Deben was President of Globe International until a few short years ago and gave this speech on 14 January 2013. He is obviously held in high esteem by the establishment as it was held in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

    https://globelegislators.org/high-level-opening-session/lord-deben-s-speech
    “The reason that we are here is to continue a process which was a long time a coming. But is now central to the battle against climate change – the mutual relationship between the legislators and the parliaments of the countries of the world.

    It has been the parliaments that have pressed governments to act. Now you notice the pride with which the minister has said how advanced is the British climate change legislation. All ministers have said that, the previous government was thrilled to have implemented it. But if I tell you the real story of it, it was that it was Parliament; across the board that forced it on the government, even though those who are most concerned in government are always frightened of being tied to a proper programme for the future.

    So it was Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour backbenchers; all sorts of people together who said ‘we want this’ ‘we’re going to have it’. And that meant that ministers in the Labour government, shadow ministers in the Conservative opposition and leaders in the Liberal Democrats really had to take on board what Parliament was saying.

    And that has given us in this country a very advanced form of climate change legislation.”

    In the sidebar you can see links to contributions from John Prescott, Ed Davy and Christiana Figueres, with a Welcome address by Alistair Burt MP – then UK Foreign Office Minister.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lord Deben is being investigated by the House of Lords Commissioner for standards – HT Paul Homewood

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/gummer-to-be-investigated-by-commissioner-for-standards-in-house-of-lords/

    Members who are currently the subject of an inquiry by the Commissioner are listed below, in chronological order according to when the inquiry began, together with a brief description of the nature of the allegation.

    Lord Deben – alleged breach of the Code in relation to registration and declaration of interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gaia Fawkes reports that the Government is “whitewashing” the issue, which will come as no surprise to those familiar with certain other inquiries.

    Lord Deben’s scandalous £600,000 conflicts of interests over vast payments funnelled to his firm, Sancroft International, from ‘Green’ corporations continues to be swept under the rug. Conor Burns submitted a written question earlier this week over Deben’s conflicts of interests, receiving a vapid response back from Energy Minister Claire Perry:

    “The Chair of the Committee on Climate Change declared his interests with Sancroft International as part of his appointment process in 2012.

    “We have received assurances from the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change on their processes for managing potential conflicts of interests. These include a clear policy on conflicts of interests, publication of members’ interests, and actively inviting information on actual or perceived conflicts as the first agenda item at each Committee meeting.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. New Clean Greenwash. Had your dirty linen aired in public? No problem. Greenwash will get your grubby, dirty little backhand dealings sparkling clean again and polish up your filthy lucre to a sparkling shine – as clean and wholesome as ‘Clean Green Energy’.

    Like

  15. New Clean Greenwash. Extensive experience in handling multiple inquiries and cooperating with police forces (see recommendations from Norfolk Police on request). Ask for affidavits from House of Lords, Royal Society and UEA. Now recruiting teenagers to give testimony. Give us a trial run, we can manipulate your data for you. Nudity, expert witnesses, we can supply all your needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Guido has a new story on

    Disgraced Deben’s Dodgy Drax Dealings

    The formal inquiry into Lord Deben continues over the £600,000 in payments his family-run ‘Sustainability Consultancy’ Sancroft International received from taxpayer-subsidised ‘Green’ corporations – in what appears to be a flagrant conflict of interests with his role as Climate Change Committee chair. Now, confidential documents seen by Guido appear to show that on the very same day as Deben was arguing in Parliament in favour of expensive renewable energy subsidies, his firm was meeting with cash-guzzling, wood-pellet-burning, biomass generator Drax Group in a secret meeting that resulted in a £15,500 payment for Sancroft. Not bad for a day’s work…

    Like

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