The government’s climate adviser Lord Deben has been cleared of wrongdoing after accusations his advice to government benefited companies which were clients of a family-run business.
Sancroft, an environmental consultancy which Lord Deben chairs, was paid £600,000 by clients which “stood to make millions from his advice to ministers”, the Mail on Sunday alleged in February.
After the article a group of MPs, including David Davies, reported Lord Deben for not “adequately” describing Sancroft’s activities. They also claimed Lord Deben had “failed to declare his interest … appropriately when intervening in several debates in the house.”
However, the Lords commissioner for standards, who opened an investigation into Lord Deben in February, today said she had found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Lord Deben never denied Sancroft, which he chairs, consulted for the companies, including Johnson Matthey, which supplies materials for electric vehicle batteries.
The commissioner found that allegations that Lord Deben benefited the firm when speaking in favour of electric vans in the Lords were unfounded. Johnson Matthey’s batteries business makes up less than three per cent of its operating profits.
The commissioner, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, questioned “how Lord Deben and Sancroft might benefit from Lord Deben speaking in favour of a policy which might at some point benefit a minority aspect of Johnson Matthey’s work is not made clear in the complaints or evidence.”
She also drew similar conclusions about Sancroft’s connections to Drax.
“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,” she added.
Lord Deben chairs the Committee on Climate Change, which last month proposed the government adopt a new net-zero mid-century emissions target.
Prime Minister Theresa May last week included most of the CCC’s recommendations when proposing a bill to eliminate the UK’s contribution to global warming by 2050.
Sancroft said: “We are pleased that the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards has dismissed all the complaints and would like to thank her for her report.
“We have always been especially careful to ensure no conflicts of interest. Nowhere is that more important than with climate change, which is the defining challenge of our time.”