Tory peer John Gummer cleared of alleged failure to declare 'green' payments
Former Cabinet minister and peer John Gummer has been cleared by sleaze watchdogs over claims he failed to properly declare and register relevant financial interests.
The ex-Environment Secretary, who now sits in the upper chamber as Lord Deben, was accused of a conflict of interest over payments made to the sustainability consultancy Sancroft, which he chairs.
In February, an article in the Mail on Sunday claimed that the firm had been paid £600,000 from “green” businesses whose work was said to be related to his policy output heading up the Committee on Climate Change.
After its publication, a group of MPs led by Conservative David TC Davies wrote a letter to the Parliamentary authorities reporting him for failing to appropriately register the activities of Sancroft, and failing to declare the company’s clients when talking in debates in the House.
But a report published by the independent House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, has cleared Lord Deben, who was a Tory MP for 40 years before becoming ennobled in 2010, of any wrongdoing.
She wrote: “As Mr Davies notes, Sancroft’s work in sustainability and working with companies to improve their environmental impact could appear to require Lord Deben to declare his interest in Sancroft and its clients when speaking on matters relating to environmental policies.
“However, for the code to be breached the connection between the interest and the matter under discussion needs to be clearer than simply being related to the broad policy topic.
“This is why the code sets the test of a reasonable person who judges all the relevant facts in an objective manner and the precise relationship between the interest and the proceeding in the House must be understood.
“Having investigated the allegations and gathered the relevant facts, I do not consider Lord Deben’s interest in Sancroft or its clients to be relevant interests that required declaration.”
The 79-year-old, who served in ministerial roles for both Margaret Thatcher and John Major’s governments, had always denied any wrongdoing.
A statement from his solicitor to the Mail on Sunday said at the time: “Allegations of conflict of interest and other improprieties are wholly false and misconceived.”