Wednesday, November 17, 2021

More Questions to be Answered as Yet Another Politician Accused of Second Job Sleaze

This Time the ex Shipping Minister is in the Spotlight
Shipping News Feature
UK – Like a string of flags from a magician's mouth it seems the list of politicians currently enmeshed in the latest batch of sleaze scandals just keeps on flowing out. The latest revelation goes to the very heart of the merchant shipping industry.

The RMT union has entered the furore over MPs second jobs by highlighting the case of former Shipping Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP who was paid £60,000 per year for 84 hours work (£714 per hour) for ship design company Artemis Technologies Ltd. Artemis has received significant DfT funding.

The union says since 2020, Artemis has been awarded £34 million in Government funding for the development of zero emission vessels and infrastructure, including in the growing offshore wind sector. Combined grants of nearly £750,000 were made to Artemis through the Clean Maritime Demonstration Programme, an initiative set up when Ms Ghani was the Maritime Minister in the Department for Transport. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:

“Seafarers working in the ferry and offshore sectors will be outraged to hear that an MP who was shipping minister until last year has sailed through the pandemic on £714 per hour from a second job in the maritime industry. It is also the case that while she was shipping minister the government presided over seafarers being paid below the minimum wage, a scandal which continues today.

“Nusrat Ghani’s role at Artemis Technologies appears to have put the company in pole position to receive millions in public funding. This appears to be a totally scandalous abuse of public office that sells out British seafarers and corrupts confidence in this government.”

Nusrat Ghani MP was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Maritime and Aviation between January 2018 and February 2020 and, according to an entry in the Register of Members Interests, was also Non-executive Chairman of the Belfast Consortium Supervisory Board of Artemis Technologies Ltd from 4 September 2020 to 4 September 2021, for which she was paid £60,000 for 7 hours a month work.

In June 2020, as part of the Belfast Maritime Consortium, Artemis received a £33 million grant from UK Research & Innovation’s Strength in Place Fund to develop a zero-emission high-speed ferry and in September 2021 the firm was awarded almost £750,000 for three projects by the Clean Maritime Demonstration Programme which was created in July 2019, as part of the Government’s Clean Maritime Plan when Ms Ghani was Maritime Minister.

As ever it appears that consulting the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA), the body responsible for deciding if an appointment is suitable, meant absolutely nothing. As with other countless cases of MP’s requests simply being passed as acceptable, this has led to voices raised to investigate and reform the whole system whereby members serving, or leaving Parliament have to prove conclusively there are no dubious links to outside business interests.