Air aide accused of 'conflict of interest'

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The Independent Online

The chief aviation adviser to the House Commons has been accused of a serious "conflicts of interest" between his parliamentary role and his private consultancy work.

Laurence Price, works for a consortium backing the construction of a new airport at Redhill near Gatwick, but also acts as a paid consultant to the Select Committee on Transport which has published reports declaring that the site should be seriously considered.

Jerome Lynch QC, the chairman of a local group protesting against the development of Redhill, has written to Gwyneth Dunwoody, chairwoman of the transport committee, arguing that Mr Price "may have conflicts of interest when discharging both duties simultaneously".

Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate, has also registered his concerns with the committee saying that Mr Price's dual role was "highly unusual''. The parliamentary advisor stood to make money from advising companies and the position was therefore "absolutely clear'' that there was a "potential conflict of interest''.

Mr Price said yesterday he had given MPs a full list of his interests when allegations of a conflict of interest over Redhill were first made in May. The committee had decided that none existed.

He said he always erected a "Chinese Wall" to ensure there are no conflicts of interest. "They have to trust my integrity. I've been working in the industry for 32 years I think that speaks for itself."

Eve Samson, clerk to the committee, said: "There is no secret about Mr Price's business interests, they are all on his website. The committee would have taken this into account when considering his advice."

Development of Gatwick, which is five miles from Redhill, is restricted by a legally-backed agreement which is not due to expire until 2019.