£40,000 deals for former Cabinet 'enforcer'

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Indy Politics

Jack Cunningham has supplemented his MP's salary with between £40,000 and £50,000 from two paid consultancies.

The former Cabinet Enforcer and Agriculture Secretary, who resigned from the Government last summer, has become policy adviser to a chemicals company and a firm of metal dealers.

In the latest Register of Members Interests, he declares that he will receive between £20,000 and £25,000 a year from each of his two new jobs, with Hickson International of West Yorkshire and Allied Deals of London. The Copeland MP is paid a parliamentary salary of £47,000.

Hickson International, which is based in Castleford, West Yorkshire, makes a range of chemical products, including agrochemicals. Last year it cut jobs at its Castleford Fine Chemicals Intermediaries plant, saying it was uncompetitive, and warned that it was facing damages of £6m imposed in a civil case in the US after a spill of arsenic acid. The company is appealing against the decision.

In 1993 Hickson and Welch, one of the group's companies, was fined £250,000 after an explosion at its Castleford plant, in which five workers died.

Allied Deals, a metal trading and mining company, was set up in 1996 and made a profit of £18m in 1999. The firm specialises in buying out previously state-owned assets in emerging markets. Last April the firm's shares were transferred to RBG Enterprises SA, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and controlled by a discretionary trust.

Dr Cunningham previously held advisory posts with the Albright & Wilson chemical company, Hays Chemicals andCenturion Press, each of which paid him between £5,000 and £10,000 a year. However, he resigned when he became a minister in 1997.

A spokesman for Hickson International said the firm was delighted to have the expertise of Dr Cunningham, who has a PhD in chemistry. "We are very happy to have that expertise available to us on a consultancy and advisory basis," he said.

Dr Cunningham cleared the posts with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments under rules for ministers who have resigned, and it had no objection to either.

He could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

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