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Monday, November 22, 2021

Potential conflict of interest at Treasury

The Guardian reports that Boris Johnson faces calls for an inquiry into treasury minister Lucy Frazer and claims of an “untenable” potential conflict of interest involving a £15bn government contract with a firm headed by her husband.

The paper says that Frazer moved to the Treasury in September and discloses her husband, David Leigh, is the boss of recruitment firm Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) in the latest list of ministerial interests.

However, the firm has a seven-year public sector resourcing contract with Crown Commercial Service, an executive agency of the Cabinet Office, overseeing the supply of temporary government workers through 351 agencies, including workers to the Treasury:

It emerged last year the firm had supplied six workers to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or the government-owned Revenue and Customs Digital Technology Services Ltd who were on tax avoidance schemes known as disguised remuneration. These schemes typically involve a loan that is unlikely to ever be repaid and avoids income tax and insurance.

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat MP and a member of the loan charge all-party parliamentary group, said: “It is extraordinary that the financial secretary to the Treasury was appointed to this role, when her husband is the boss of the company that holds a £15bn framework contract to supply temporary workers, including to the Treasury and to HMRC.

“It is hugely embarrassing that contractors have been recruited via the public sector resourcing process who have used disguised remuneration arrangements while working for HMRC. HMRC says its suppliers must ensure the tax compliance of workers. So what action have they taken in this situation? There should be an investigation into all of this, including the clear and untenable conflict of interest that clearly exists.”

The government say that arrangements are in place to ensure there is no conflict of interest and the minister has made no decisions relating to the contract in question since taking up the role. Nevertheless, in politics it is the optics that matter and this latest controversy just adds to the appearance of a government under pressure to sort itself out.
Sad to say but this is now so typical. Not only do M.P's and Ministers have snouts in troughs but they are enabling extended families, businesses, even mates down the pub to get their own troughs so there is wider participation in the scam. All from a government that clawed £20 a week back from people who really needed it. Thieving grasping C**ts !
Nor is it clear what special qualities justify Ms Frazer's elevation.

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