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New civil service chief’s second job a ‘complete disgrace’ – health committee chair

The new chief executive of the Civil Service must resign from his £100,000-a-year second job as a director in the alcohol industry, the chair of the House of Commons health select committee has said.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who is a GP, said that the new chief executive, John Manzoni, must resign immediately from his role as a non-executive director for SABMiller, the drinks company behind brands such as Grolsch and Bulmer. The role undermines his impartiality as a civil service official, she said.

Wollaston called it a “complete disgrace” that the Cabinet Office allowed him to stay in the role while at the same time heading up the Civil Service. She has posted on Twitter asking for retweets to show support for him working for ‘big alcohol’. It has been retweeted 54 times already.

Manzoni, who only started his new role on Monday, has been given government approval to keep working in both roles. Corporate filings shows he takes his salary in company stock and currently holds shares worth more than £250,000 in the company.

SABMiller was one of the drinks companies that opposed the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing before those plans were scrapped.

Wollaston, who backed minimum alcohol pricing, told the Guardian: “This is clearly a conflict of interest and I’m astonished that the Cabinet Office don’t see it, especially as they are at the heart of decision making about alcohol policy, including their own ‘nudge’ unit looking at behaviour change. He must resign his interests in alcohol with immediate effect or it will fatally undermine his credibility and frankly the judgment of [those] who made this bizarre decision.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman told the paper that the government was “satisfied there is no conflict of interest”.

“John Manzoni has declared his interests to the Cabinet Office,” he added. “Following his appointment as the chief executive of the civil service he is resigning his appointments except for SABMiller, which it has been agreed he can retain, and he is establishing a blind trust.”

Before moving over to be chief executive Manzoni had three private sector jobs while working in a £190,000-a-year post as head of the Major Projects Authority. All three were approved by the Cabinet Office.

Manzoni was promoted to be the first ever chief executive of the civil service despite criticism of his safety record while an executive at BP following the Texas refinery explosion.

(Image: Library picture of Sarah Wollaston MP c. Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

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