More than 170 former ministers and senior officials have taken private sector roles related to their old policy briefs in the past six years, research has found, with Sajid Javid, Robert Buckland and Gavin Williamson among the Tory MPs declaring lucrative second jobs in the last few weeks.
A report from Transparency International found large numbers of ex- ministers and senior officials were going straight from their government jobs into private sector roles relevant to their former responsibilities, which it said raised serious questions over how potential conflicts of interest are managed in Westminster.
It found 30% of those taking jobs after holding senior office were hired in a similar area to their government role, with the highest prevalence among former defence and education office holders. Overall, 177 out of 604 jobs since 2017 were linked to the former policy responsibilities of government ministers and officials.
Duncan Hames, the director of policy at Transparency International UK, said: “Britain’s revolving-door watchdog has proved powerless to stop former ministers and officials cashing in on the contacts they made in public service.
“The Greensill saga highlighted just how easily former politicians can secure privileged access to government for their new paymasters – with potentially huge implications for public policy and the use of taxpayers’ money.
“While most ministers and senior officials take care to avoid potential conflicts when leaving office, this research shows the potential for abuse of the ‘revolving door’ remains significant and demonstrates the need for a regulator with teeth.
“Tighter controls on lobbying for private interests, and replacing the present advisory committee with a statutory body that can effectively police the revolving door would better protect the public from it being so abused.”
The research comes as large numbers of Tory MPs from the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss governments appear to be taking on second jobs amid fears within the party that many could lose their seats or be consigned to opposition after the next election.
The former ministers Williamson, Buckland and Javid were among those to declare well-paid second jobs on the last register of members’ interests, all of which are in the same sector as their former briefs.
They have all been approved with no concerns by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) which has long been criticised for being toothless in its inability to veto appointments or enforce any lobbying restrictions.
Javid, a former chancellor and health secretary, is taking a £300,000 a year role as an adviser to the Jersey-based investment firm Centricus Partners. He is being paid about £2,500 an hour for the job, after saying he would not stand again at the next election.
Williamson, a former education secretary, took up a post as a £50,000 adviser to RTC Education, a firm run by the Tory donor Selva Pankaj, while Buckland, a former justice secretary, has become a senior counsel for Payne Hicks Beach solicitors for £4,000 a month.
The former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg has returned to an unpaid role as director of his personal company Saliston, and Jake Berry, a former Tory party chair, has taken an unpaid role as director of the energy company Palatine Power.
Philip Davies, a Tory backbencher, has been appointed as a consultant on regulation and public policy at the National Pawnbrokers Association, paid £1,000 a month, while Bim Afolami, a former Tory vice-chair, has become a £2,000 a month partner in the professional advice firm Warre Constable.
Current senior Tories have also been signing up for extra work, with the deputy chair, Lee Anderson, accepting a £100,000 a year job at GB News.
Johnson has not taken any jobs since departing as prime minister but has earned millions from speeches to private firms and enjoyed tens of thousands of pounds in accommodation and hospitality from Tory donors.
MPs rushed to scale back and drop second jobs around the time of the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal that led to the former environment secretary being censured and ultimately losing his seat in a byelection.
However, there has recently been an uptick in MPs taking jobs that increase their pay. Johnson’s government had indicated it might put a limit on second jobs in terms of hours or pay but the proposal was dropped last year.