Pubs code

Mulholland calls for urgent parliamentary debate on Newby appointment

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

Battle: Mulholland has opposed Newby's appointment throughout
Battle: Mulholland has opposed Newby's appointment throughout

Related tags: Paul newby, House of lords

Chair of the Parliamentary Save the Pub group, Greg Mulholland MP, has called for an 'urgent debate in Government time' to discuss Paul Newby's position as the pubs code adjudicator.

The Liberal Democrat MP took the opportunity when Parliamentary business was being outlined for the upcoming weeks to call for a debate on Newby's controversial appointment.

Newby's position has been under fire ever since his appointment​ as pubs code adjudicator in March of this year because of his previous 25 years spent working for licensed property agency Fleurets, a company in which he still holds a financial interest.

Despite the cross-party Business Select Committee​ recommending that Newby be replaced in July, the Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark MP, backed​ Newby in November of this year.

Attacking the Secretary of State, Mulholland said in Parliament: "The Secretary of State for Business was sent proof that Paul Newby, the adjudicator, has existing loans and shares dependent on income from the pubcos he is supposed to adjudicate. And yet it took four months for the Secretary of State to respond to the BIS Select Committee’s recommendation that the appointment be rescinded, simply saying he was not going to look at the matter. That’s not good enough. People are being denied the right to the market rent-only option that this House voted for and Mr Newby is doing nothing about it. Can we have an urgent debate in Government time on this matter?"

Responding to Mulholland's request for a debate, the leader of the House of Commons, David Lidington MP, said: "That appointment, like all Government appointments, goes through a process which is designed to ensure that all due diligence is adhered to in putting forward a long list and then a shortlist of candidates. My understanding is that following the criticisms that were made, a look was taken at the appointments process in this case and it was found that there was absolutely nothing untoward that took place in making that appointment."

'It stinks'

Speaking after raising his question in the Commons, Mulholland said: "Ministers are ignoring the evidence they have been sent about Paul Newby’s clear financial conflicts of interest and are ignoring the failure of civil servants and previous Ministers who made a wholly inappropriate appointment. It is a whitewash.  

"We have a situation where the person in the quasi-judicial role of pubs code adjudicator, whose job it is to regulate the large pubcos, has loan repayments and shares that are dependent on those very pub companies getting income. It is extraordinary, disgraceful and to tied tenants up and down the country, it stinks."

Simon Clarke from the Fair Pint campaign added: "Mr Newby's continued presence as adjudicator and self appointment as arbitrator in cases where the tenants have recognised the potential bias as a result of his conflicts is making a joke out of the legislation."

Related topics: Legislation

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