Minister's link to adviser in spotlight


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Questions were being asked last night over links between the climate change minister and an energy change adviser. Greg Barker and Miriam Maes worked together while he was in opposition and she was hired as a departmental consultant after the election.

Freedom of Information documents obtained by The Guardian are said to show she accompanied Mr Barker on official visits, was warned by officials about overstepping boundaries and repeatedly encouraged Mr Barker to give a "gentle nudge" and "discuss" projects involving her client Air Products, a multinational energy-from-waste supplier.

Caroline Flint, the shadow climate change minister, demanded an explanation. She said the two risked a repeat of the Fox-Werritty affair, referring to then Defence Secretary Liam Fox and his "adviser".

According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said that Mrs Maes was twice awarded short term contracts following a “competition” and she had informed Decc officials that her clients included Air Products

"Mrs Maes also provided additional views pro bono on related matters to the department and to the minister.

"Ministers frequently seek the views of external experts. The permanent secretary and officials in Decc were aware that the minister greatly valued Miriam Maes's views," he said.

Mrs Maes also insisted that she was open at all times with the ministry and the minister and provided a full list of clients.