How it works: the link between government and agri-business

Posted By on 26th October 2023

By Julia Penhaligon

Camborne and Redruth MP George Eustice has set up a consultancy business to sell his agricultural expertise.

Mr Eustice, who is leaving Parliament at the next election, has registered Penbroath Ltd as a management advisory firm in the agribusiness sector – where he was a government minister for nine years, including being Secretary of State at Defra.

Mr Eustice, who was sacked by Liz Truss in 2022, had notified the Office of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) of his intention to set up his new business.  The committee has told him he must not lobby the government on behalf of his clients for two years.

Penbroath plans to advise private equity shareholders looking to invest in the agri-tech, agri-food and environmental sectors, offering “strategic advice on relevant policy and guidance on complying with rules and regulations.”

One of the companies which Mr Eustice plans to advise deals in the disposal of hazardous waste.

In keeping with the rules for any ex-minister, Mr Eustice had to submit his plans to Acoba, to check their suitability and any scope for providing future clients with an unfair commercial advantage.

In its conclusions, committee chairman Lord Pickles said that, while it would “not be improper” for Mr Eustice to set up his consultancy, there is still “a significant risk” that his clients could benefit unfairly from his “privileged insight” gained during his time in office.

Lord Pickles also expressed concern that Mr Eustice’s clients could gain unfair access to government, to their commercial advantage.

As such, Acoba has set a number of conditions which Mr Eustice must meet for his new consultancy, including that he must not draw on privileged information derived from his time in office, nor undertake any lobbying of government for a two-year period.

Mr Eustice will also have to seek approval from the committee for each new client he takes on for two years, so that any risks of unfair business practice can be assessed.

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