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.