The Conservative health minister has a large stake in a private health screening and covid-testing firm, raising questions about a potential conflict of interest.
Nick Markham, who was appointed by the Department of Health as a peer under Lease Trust, owns 30% of Sigpost Investments and has worked in his first four months in office.
The company was established to provide Covid testing and health screening services to the private sector during the pandemic. Markham Biography The Department of Health website mentions his previous work in the private sector with ITV and TopUp TV and being the founder of a charity, but makes no mention of his interest in the private health sector.
Markham announced Sigpost’s investment in a register of interests in the House of Lords in September as health minister. The interests of ministers are to be overseen by an independent consultant, but the position has been vacant for six months Mr. Gedit left his job Under Boris Johnson.
Labor and the Liberal Democrats said it was inappropriate for a government minister to hold such a stake.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader of Lancaster and Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Conservative peers have been rewarded with jobs as peers and prime ministers while protecting their lucrative interests. There’s a rotten smell about the revolving door that Toris has left wide open. Labor is autonomous and cleans politics by restoring standards in public life. Ethics and Integrity CommissionHe said.
Lib Dem health spokesman Sal Brinton said: “These demands are not only inappropriate, they are completely unethical.” House of Lords.
“The rules state that ministers must not be influenced by any influence in their decisions and must avoid any conflict of interest to protect the public’s trust. Our ministers should reach higher levels but these are slipping with each new appointment.
“Lord Markham must remove these demands and Rishi Sunak must immediately appoint a new ethics adviser.”
SigPost didn’t win any government contracts during the outbreak, but it expanded business thanks to a policy that required people to test regularly and a move from free to paid testing.
Its subsidiary, Sigpost Diagnostics, made pre-tax profits of around £15m on revenues of £49m in the year to March 2021, a nine-month period.
Markham also owns shares in a family investment company and a management consulting firm, according to a filing of interest.
The Department of Health and Social Care had no comment when asked what was being done to reduce risks of conflict of interest. However, Markham is understood to have told the department that he is now withdrawing his shares. He resigned as a director when he became a minister in September.
Markham’s share of the health organization is recent despite historical precedent for ministers having a direct financial interest in matters to which they are appointed.
Jacob Rees-Mogg was allowed to continue his shareholding Somerset Capital ManagementAsset manager, when he was business secretary and Chris Phillips was allowed to put something important Share in property finance group and the role of director of an investment company. At the time, Philip was Treasury Secretary with responsibility for expenditure policy in relation to housing and planning.