Nus Ghani MP has taken-up a position paying £60,000 advising a maritime technology firm, on top of her MP’s salary of nearly £82,000 and £20,000 she receives from a think tank.
Ms Ghani will serve as non-executive chairman of the Belfast Consortium Supervisory Board at Artemis Technologies Ltd, receiving £60,000 for seven hours of work per month. She took up her role in September this year, according to the latest register of MPs’ interests.
The Belfast Maritime Consortium, led by Artemis Technologies, won the multi-million pound UK government innovation grant in May to develop zero-emission ferries in Belfast, pledging to “revolutionise the future of maritime transport”.
The former shipping minister is facing criticism for taking-up the role at a firm after she lobbied a fellow minister for whilst she was serving in government. Labour’s shadow maritime minister, Mike Kane MP, said:
This again shows the revolving door between ex-ministers and private firms. This can’t be right. The maritime industry like so many others is desperate for government action to protect jobs and livelihoods in the face of wholesale redundancies. The timing of this just won’t sit well for ordinary people when as recently as last week over 100 jobs at P&O alone were lost.
Ms Ghani was a transport minister from January 2018 until 13 February this year. In the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, it states she consulted the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).
The watchdog has been told not to lobby ministers for two years, but she was given the go-ahead to do other work for the firm.
In September last year, while Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, Nus Ghani wrote a letter to the then Business Minister Chris Skidmore in support of a bid for funding made by Artemis Technologies to UK Research and Innovation.
The bid was later successful, with £33m being awarded. But the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not present Ms Ghani’s letter as part of the application for the money, and so judged it “would not have had a bearing on the decision-making process”.
Ms Ghani also told ACOBA she had visited Artemis Technologies’ offices in early 2019, but said she had not had “any other contact” with the company while a minister.
A letter sent to Ms Ghani by the Committee’s Chair, Lord Pickles in August, outlining the watchdog’s consideration, states:
You stated that 18 months ago whilst on a regional tour of the area you visited the company offices but that you did not have any other contact whilst you were in office. You had no access to commercially sensitive information about Artemis’s competitors nor had engaged in any official dealings with these competitors.
From March 2020, Nus Ghani has also been a Senior Fellow at the think tank Policy Exchange. She receives £20,000 a year for 15 hours of work per month providing advice on trade, maritime, security and terrorism.