Government faces calls from Labour to replace newly-appointed Pubs Code Adjudicator

Francesca Washtell
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The government has come under more criticism for its recent appointment of Paul Newby as the first Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) and faced calls from Labour to find a replacement candidate.

The new PCA, whose appointment was announced by small business minister Anna Soubry during a parliamentary reading last Wednesday, will enforce the new Pubs Code and act as an arbitrator between pub tenants and pub landlords.

However, the appointment was immediately criticised by Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, who called it "unacceptable" because, Mulholland claimed, Newby had worked for "the very pub companies criticised for widespread abuses in the sector".

Labour's shadow small business minister Bill Esterson has also now attacked the appointment.

"Yet again, the Conservatives have shown a marked reluctance to support tied pub tenants. It's clear that the newly appointed Pubs Code Adjudicator, Paul Newby, has a conflict of interest because he is the director of a firm that represents the major pub owning companies.The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors rules mean that pub tenants will have very strong grounds for objecting to his involvement with the new Pubs Code,"

"There are also serious questions for the Minister, Anna Soubry about Mr Newby's appointment. The Ministerial Code on Public Appointments makes clear that she should have considered whether he had a conflict of interest before appointing him.

"The government should withdraw Mr Newby's appointment, and replace him with someone who has the confidence of pub tenants," Esterson said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said Newby has been "appointed in accordance with the code of practice for public appointments".

"He will be held to the high standards required of all public officials and will be expected to abide by these standards throughout his time as the Pubs Code Adjudicator. When he takes up his role on 2 May, he will have left his previous employment.”

She added that the government will not be considering finding a replacement for Newby.

The Parliamentary Save the Pub Group will formally be referring the matter to the BIS Select Committee, according to Greg Mulholland, which should require Anna Soubry to discuss the matter directly.

"There is a clear conflict of interest that has been overlooked, not declared or ignored and whatever the reasoning is, it makes this appointment untenable," Mulholland added.