Conservative minister Philip Davies (MP for Shipley) has hit back at ‘inaccurate reporting’ by The Guardian which disclosed his paid work for GVC Holdings.
On Wednesday 11 November, the Guardian published a report revealing that Davies and fellow Tory minister Laurence Robertson (MP for Tewkesbury) had taken on consultancy jobs advising betting and gaming organisations.
Citing Parliamentary disclosures, the Guardian stated that GVC had agreed to pay Davies £50,000 to ‘provide advice on responsible gambling and customer services’.
Paid consultancy roles by MPs are not an uncommon practice, however, the Guardian suggested that Davies had been in direct conflict of his duties as a minister serving on ‘DCMS select committee managing the forthcoming review of the 2005 Gambling Act’.
The newspaper remarked that Davies should have resigned from any involvement with the Select Committee, drawing immediate criticism from Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and Swansea East MP Carolyn Harris – chair of the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harms.
Davies has defended his advisory role with GVC, stating that the Guardian’s reporting was untrue as he had quit his seat on the DCMS Select Committee during the summer, adding that he had disclosed all interests when participating in it.
“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.” Davies told West Yorkshire news source the Ilkley Gazette.
The MP said that his departure on the Select Committee had only been recently updated, and that it was a common practice for many MPs to register interest in select hearings ahead of their intended reviews.
With regards to his GVC work, Davies maintained that he had agreed a contract with the FTSE firm that prohibited him from any form of lobbying which was against ministerial rules.
Furthermore, he said that GVC had approached him on the basis of his work and experience as former operations director for ASDA, solely advising the firm on improving 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.”