Conservative Minister Philip Davies (MP for Shipley) has been hit back by The Guardian’s incorrect reporting which exposed his paid work for GVC Holdings.
The Guardian released an article on Wednesday 11 November revealing that Davies and fellow Tory Minister Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury MP) took on consulting positions advising betting and gaming organisations.
The Guardian reported that GVC had agreed to pay Davies £ 50,000 to provide advice on responsible gaming and customer services,’ citing parliamentary disclosures.
MPs’ paying advisory positions are not an unusual occurrence, but the Guardian indicated that Davies was in direct conflict with his responsibilities as a minister sitting on the ‘DCMS select committee managing the forthcoming review 2005 Gambling Act.’
Davies should have withdrawn from all association with the Select Committee, the newspaper noted, attracting immediate condemnation from Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Gambling Harms Parliamentary Group.
Davies defended his advisory position with GVC, arguing that the Guardian’s reporting was untrue because during the summer he resigned his seat on the DCMS Select Committee, adding that while participating in it he had reported all interests.
Davies told West Yorkshire news source the Ilkley Gazette said: “I decided to, to go above and beyond in terms of duty, I handed in my resignation in the Summer. I reacted in a way no MP probably ever would do in order to avoid conflict of interest.”
The MP claimed that his departure from the Select Committee had only recently been revised and that it was standard practise for a number of MPs to register an interest in the chosen hearings prior to their scheduled review.
Davies maintained that he had agreed to a contract with the FTSE company with regard to his GVC work that prevented him from any sort of lobbying that was contrary to ministerial rules.
In addition, he said that GVC had approached him on the basis of his work and experience as ASDA’s former operations chief, advising the company solely on enhancing its customer services.
“I worked in customer service for years before I became an MP, so why would I not take the opportunity to ensure these companies do better to protect their customers? Why would I not try to help them in that regard? That’s going to benefit my constituents. I hope the gambling industry does more like that so we don’t need lots of laws in place.
“They had their own house in order. I can’t really see why I would refuse to help them improve their player protection and customer service.”