- Jake Berry MP’s second job as a paid consultant to a multinational law firm means that it’s unclear, at the very least, in what capacity he spoke at a recent real-estate event in Manchester sponsored by the same law firm. The MP, a self-proclaimed champion of transparency, hasn’t replied to requests for comment on what I consider to be his avoidable conflict of interest. Nor has the law firm.
- Mr Berry is Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen. He’s a solicitor, who, according to his personal website, “specialised in housing and development law” before entering parliament in 2010. On 10 November 2016, Mr Berry spoke at a real-estate event at the National Football Museum, Manchester. Here’s a newspaper preview: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/property/more-effort-needed-drive-provide-12156570.
- The breakfast meeting had two sponsors: law firm Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP and bank NatWest. The MP has a second job – as a paid consultant to, er, Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP. It’s been paying him £2 500 per month since September 2016, Mr Berry’s entry on the register of MPs’ financial interests shows.
- The newspaper preview fails to mention the MP’s second job. An unfortunate omission. I’ve asked Mr Berry in emails in what capacity he spoke at the event. Was he there as MP for Rossendale and Darwen – or as an employee of Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP?
- At date of publication I haven’t received a reply. Nor have I heard from Holly Carty, business development coordinator at Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP in Manchester. Ms Carty tweeted about the event on her official work account (@HACarty).
- Mr Berry’s failure to respond is particularly disappointing because he’s a self-proclaimed champion of transparency: www.jakeberry.org/transparency. “If you have any questions or would like any further details please do not hesitate to contact me,” he says on that page.
- It’s unclear which Mr Berry spoke at the real-estate event in Manchester last November. Yet he had an actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest due to his second job. This conflict of interest risks undermining trust and confidence in the MP, as well as MPs generally. What’s worse, his is an avoidable conflict of interest.
- There’s no suggestion that Mr Berry has done anything illegal.