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Evidence of a lack of transparency in Boris Johnson’s Government just continues, way after he’s departed. The latest revelation is that the MP Theresa Villiers, who held the post of Environment Secretary, did so while having shares in the oil and gas giant, Shell. And this fact has only just come to light.
Ms Villiers was head of the department from July 2019 to February 2020. During that time she had over £70,000 invested in the company.
Her financial interests in the company were revealed today in the Register of Members Financial Interests. And according to these records, it was only last month that the Member of Parliament for Chipping Barnet finally officially declared them.
Good Law Project’s Head of Engagement, Ellie Mae O’Hagan said:
“This is not just another example of the Tories ducking transparency, it also raises serious questions about whether the Government’s duty to protect our environment was completely compromised by a Secretary of State’s financial interests in big polluters in the middle of a climate emergency.
“This is why at Good Law Project we believe it is so important to shine a light on conflicts of interests at the highest levels of power and the dark money influencing our politics”.
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The Mirror, who have published the story, approached Theresa Villiers MP’s office for comment.
A spokesperson for Theresa Villiers MP said:
“Ms Villiers deeply regrets her failure to monitor the value of shareholdings and has offered her sincere apologies. These shares are part of a portfolio which is professionally managed for Ms Villiers and for which she has never taken day-to-day investment decisions.
“It did not occur to her that any single shareholding would reach the threshold for declaration, but a legacy received in 2018 caused that to happen.
“As soon as she realised this, she alerted the Registrar of Members Interests and the Standards Commissioner. She takes full responsibility for the mistake. She accepts that it should never have happened, and that she should have kept track of the additions to her investment portfolio. She is taking steps to ensure that this never happens again. Nothing she has ever said or done as MP has been influenced by these shareholdings.”
“When she was appointed as Secretary of State, Ms Villiers disclosed to Defra that she had a portfolio of shares which was professionally managed for her and over which she did not take investment decisions.
“She offered to place this in a blind trust. The Prime Minister’s ethics adviser said that this step was unnecessary because the portfolio was managed for her and she did not take investment decisions.
“So Ministerial Code requirements were complied with. Nothing she did as Defra Secretary was influenced by any of these shareholdings.”