Paul Newby

Is Newby conflicted? Key points about the new pubs code adjudicator

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Is Newby conflicted? Key points about the new pubs code adjudicator

Related tags: British pub confederation, Public house, Greg mulholland, Want

Paul Newby’s appointment as pubs code adjudicator has come under intense scrutiny amid claims of conflict of interest, culminating in a grilling at a Business Innovation and Skills select committee last week. The Publican’s Morning Advertiser looks at the key arguments from both sides.

Greg Mulholland MP, British Pub Confederation:

  • Newby’s background as a director of Fleurets working as a chartered surveyor acting for pubcos will result in a lack of confidence from tenants
  • When disputes are brought to Newby, if he had acted for either party in the past it could affect his ability to be impartial and constitute a conflict of interest
  • An “overwhelming” majority of Pubs Advisory Service members reject his appointment
  • Newby estimated 20% to 23% of turnover at Fleurets came from large pubcos, which campaigners say shows how important they are to the business
  • Newby is receiving loan repayments from Fleurets, which gives him vested interests in a company that works for pubcos and creates a conflict of interests
  • The Confederation is refusing to meet with Newby and is also considering a judicial review of his appointment

Pubs Code Adjudicator, Paul Newby:

  • “I have an all-round view of the pub market. I genuinely believe I have seen it from all angles. I felt that was part of the reason to apply for the job, because of my experience.”
  • Of 67 activities he was working on when he left Fleurets, six involved big pub companies and seven involved tenants
  • A conflict of interest policy will be established to avoid any problems; having previously worked for either side would be likely to constitute a conflict
  • Received support from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Institute of Innkeeping
  • Newby supplied Fleurets with a loan in a long-term agreement, which was set up before he applied for the role as PCA — he claims this would not affect his role
  • Keen to meet all groups and stakeholders “to hear what they have to say”

What they’ve said:

Greg Mulholland, chair of the British Pub Confederation:

He clearly has a conflict of interest, and it is clearly a disqualifying conflict of interest. Fleurets is the largest surveying practice operating in the very sector that the pubs code is being introduced to regulate.

How can he be trusted to be independent given his salary for the past twenty years has been dependent on the companies he must now adjudicate?

How can have tenants have confidence in this appointment, why has a chartered surveyor been appointed instead of someone from a legal background?

PCA Paul Newby:

Perception of conflict of interest is something I need to address. With regards to fairness - I’m not sitting in some all-powerful role. It’s paramount that fairness and transparency goes through the whole thing.

I’m so keen to meet all the stake holders because I want to hear what they have to say. If there are unfair practices I want to know.

I’ve thrown my previous hat away and have a new hat with new responsibilities.

There has undoubtedly been a dysfunctional relationship that has left us where we are now, an imbalance, and the pubs code is here to address that.

Mr door is always open to all stakeholders. It’s time to get on with it, I’m quite happy to be judged on my record.

Si Clarke, secretary of BPC and chartered surveyor:

Rightly or wrongly, the glaring answer for dissatisfied tied tenants will be that the adjudicator has favoured his former employers, the pubcos. For a dissatisfied pubco, they will be suspicious that Mr Newby has leaned too far the tenants way to try and preserve the illusion of independence.

BII licensee of the year Keith Marsden, Prince of Wales pub in Mosley, Birmingham:

This is a great appointment for the industry. Paul is somebody with the right sort of experience, he’s a man of fantastic integrity who will be both feared and respected by the pubcos, he has a very good and even-handed view and pubcos and publicans should be pleased.

Related topics: Legislation

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