The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Anger as former Minister sets up consultancy firm
Ex-climate change chief’s new green company formed days after she is sacked
A FORMER Energy Minister is facing criticism for setting up an environmental consultancy a week after being sacked as head of a crucial UN climate summit.
Claire Perry O’Neill was overseeing preparations for November’s climate change conference – known as COP26 – in Glasgow but was dismissed by Boris Johnson last week after ‘concerns about her leadership’.
Six days after she was ousted, documents were filed at Companies House for Claireon Ltd, a private company which lists her as sole director and company secretary.
The eponymous firm states its business as ‘environmental consulting activities’ and shares its registered office address with the home of the former MP and her husband. It has sparked fears that Mrs Perry O’Neill plans to exploit specialist knowledge gleaned from her conference role and previous service as Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth. James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, told
The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘To hear that she’s opened an environmental consultancy strikes me as being pretty rich. Hearing that she’s now seeking to sell her expertise is disappointing, to say the least.’
The Government’s Business Appointments Rules apply to former Ministers on new roles they wish to take up for two years after they leave office. They ensure that ex-Ministers cannot use their connections after leaving Whitehall. A spokesman for the advisory Committee on Business Appointments confirmed that Mrs Perry O’Neill had not sought approval for the new venture and will need to do so when it begins ‘to actively seek business and secure clients’.
The move is part of a trend of former Ministers taking up posts in business and consultancy. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced last week that she will join David Cameron’s ex-spin doctor Craig Oliver at City PR giant Teneo Blue Rubicon, while former Chancellor Philip Hammond is advising financial technology firm OakNorth.
Before her appointment as COP president, Mrs Perry O’Neill served as MP for Devizes between 2010 and 2019 in a parliamentary career full of colourful incidents, including clashes with Ministers and civil servants.
She was best known for having to apologise when, unable to catch the Speaker’s eye in the Commons, she wondered aloud to whom she needed to perform a sex act on in order to get her say. Her spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.