Belfast Telegraph

Government condemned over appointment of Pubs Code Adjudicator

The Government has been criticised for pressing ahead with the controversial appointment of the Pubs Code Adjudicator despite opposition from MPs and pub tenants.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said he disagreed with the view of the Business Select Committee that the process should be reopened.

"The appointment process for the Pubs Code Adjudicator was run in accordance with the code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies," he said in a letter to committee chairman Iain Wright.

The panel considered whether adjudicator Paul Newby had conflicts of interest which might call into question his ability to do the job and concluded he did not, said the minister.

Mr Wright said: "The Government's decision not to reopen the appointment process regarding the adjudicator is short-sighted and significantly jeopardises the ability of the Pubs Code to improve the soured and unbalanced relationship between pub companies and many of their tenants.

"The committee does not question Mr Newby's integrity or his qualifications for the job as adjudicator, but there remains a strong and clear perception of a conflict of interest among significant parts of the trade over which he will be adjudicating.

"If the Pubs Code Adjudicator is to command the confidence of all of the trade's stakeholders, then they must be seen as independent, impartial and without financial interests in any company which derives revenue from one side of the trade.

"Mr Newby, sadly, cannot demonstrate this. As a result, his ability to win confidence and respect throughout the industry and to do his job has already been compromised."

Mr Newby, who took the role in May for an initial term of four years, will be responsible for enforcing the Pubs Code, legislation that will govern the relationship between large pub-owning businesses and tied tenants in England and Wales.

Some MPs and pub tenants criticised the appointment because Mr Newby had worked with big pub companies.