A former transport minister who left the government earlier this year has taken up a £60,000-a-year second job advising a maritime technology firm.
Conservative MP Nus Ghani is doing around seven hours’ work a month for Artemis Technologies as it helps to develop new ferries for Belfast.
She has been told not to lobby ministers for two years by the watchdog on MPs’ second jobs.
But she was given the go-ahead to do other work for the firm.
Labour said the timing of the appointment, with “wholesale” redundancies taking place in the maritime sector, “just won’t sit well for ordinary people”.
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Ms Ghani, MP for Wealden, East Sussex, was a transport minister from 9 January 2018 until 13 February this year.
She took up her role with Artemis Technologies – leading a consortium headed by the company to develop zero-emissions ferries for Belfast – in September this year, according to Parliament’s register of MPs’ interests.
In a letter to Ms Ghani, the Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) said there “should be no cause for any suspicion of impropriety” when a former minister takes up a new role.
In September last year, while in office, the MP wrote a letter to the then Business Minister Chris Skidmore in support of a bid for funding made by Artemis Technologies to UK Research and Innovation.
The bid was later successful, with £33m being awarded,
But the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not present Ms Ghani’s letter as part of the application for the money, and so judged it “would not have had a bearing on the decision-making process”.
Ms Ghani also told ACOBA she had visited Artemis Technologies’ offices while on a regional tour in early 2019, but said she had not had “any other contact” with the company while a minister.
ACOBA found that the Department for Transport had “no concerns under the rules in relation to you taking up this appointment”.
The watchdog added that it “could not reasonably be inferred that this appointment was as a result of actions you took whilst in office”.
But ACOBA also said it was “mindful” of a “crossover in the area you will be advising on, and your time in office”.
It ruled that Ms Ghani should not lobby the UK government until out of ministerial office for two years and “not draw on” any “privileged” information available when she was in office.
For Labour, shadow transport minister Mike Kane said the timing of the appointment, with the maritime industry “desperate for government action to protect jobs and livelihoods in the face of wholesale redundancies” was wrong.
The BBC has approached Ms Ghani for comment.
Former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has taken up a £100,000-a-year role advising Hutchison Ports, which oversees some of the UK’s biggest ports, it was revealed last month.