Energy minister chartered his own private aircraft from London to Aberdeen, despite numerous scheduled services

He took the flight after a meeting in which the UK and Mexico affirmed to a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions

The energy minister Matthew Hancock became embroiled in a row yesterday after chartering a private aircraft from Aberdeen to London despite there being numerous scheduled services that day.

Mr Hancock was forced to deny reports that he took the chartered flight with just two Foreign Office diplomats on March 5 after signing a series of agreements with the Mexican president to stimulate investment in the North Sea and to work together on “sustainable and low-carbon development”.

A spokesman for the minister conceded that Mr Hancock did take a chartered flight, but insisted that the aircraft was full.

He took the flight after a meeting in which the UK and Mexico affirmed “the progressive stance of both countries and our shared aim to reach an ambitious, equitable, comprehensive and legally binding global agreement [to reduce carbon emissions]”.

The meeting in Aberdeen also saw Britain agree a £670m funding package for Pemex, the Mexican state oil company whose platform blew up in the Gulf of Mexico this week, killing four people.

Campaigners were particularly angry about the flight because of the pledge the UK and Mexico had made in Aberdeen to help combat climate change.

 

“Many people will find it astonishing that a government minister shunned scheduled flights to rack up carbon emissions and unnecessary expense for taxpayers,” said Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Oliver Hayes.

“Ministers hiring private jets to sign billion dollar oil deals will further dent confidence in the Government’s commitment to tackling climate change,” Mr Hayes added.

Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “So much for setting a good example on keeping the government’s carbon footprint down.”

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: “Matt was in Aberdeen to host the Mexican president and promote this great British industry [North Sea]. He joined a flight with official and diplomats, which was full.”

“The visit was a success and since then further progress has been made in landing contracts to secure UK jobs,” he added.

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