At least 16 Conservative allies are given paid “independent” roles in government
Private equity scion Wol Kolade is a non-executive director of NHS Improvement, which is headed by his conservative counterpart Dido Harding. Kolade gave more than £ 700,000 to the Tories, including £ 10,000 to Matt Hancock.
Kolade is the Managing Partner of global investment firm Livingbridge. A company in which Livingbridge has a majority stake has won nearly £ 6million in government contracts during the pandemic, according to Signing time. He was named CBE on the Queen’s 2021 Honor Roll.
Nick Campsie, a non-executive at the Justice Department, says on his LinkedIn page that he “campaigned on behalf of the Conservative Party in the European referendum and made donations to support party activities.” Records show he also donated to Chuka Umunna when he was a Labor MP.
And Theresa May’s former joint chief of staff Nick Timothy is now a non-executive at the Education Department.
“At a time when the government is already harassed by allegations of cronyism, it is worrying how many people with political connections occupy these taxpayer funded positions,” said Alex Runswick, senior advocacy officer at Transparency International UK .
She added: “Appointments to these posts should be based solely on the candidate’s experience and suitability for the post, and not on the depth of his pockets or the minister he knows.
“The process of installing non-executive directors at Whitehall should be regulated to ensure that any conflict of interest is properly managed and to give the public confidence in the probity of such appointments.”
A recent Byline Times survey found that several large ministries do not provide an up-to-date public register of interests held by non-executive board members, despite transparency rules.
Sue Hawley, senior director of Spotlight on Corruption, said that appointing politically linked people to non-executive director roles “risks allowing political capture of all government departments.”
“The role of non-executive directors is to review the quality of departmental management and challenge ministers to do a good job. It should be a fully independent role and it is of deep concern that it appears to be used to drop politically connected people into this role, ”said Hawley.
This article was updated June 25 to reflect Rachel Wolf’s resignation as DWP non-executive director in November 2020.