“A Whitehall watchdog was accused of an extraordinary cover-up last night over the lucrative investment job given to George Osborne’s former top aide.
Rupert Harrison, nicknamed ‘the real Chancellor’ when he was Mr Osborne’s chief-of-staff, got a six-figure salary to work for asset management firm BlackRock two years ago.
But now it has emerged that the official appointments committee, Acoba, was reprimanded for approving the job without disclosing meetings he held with the firm while he worked for the ex-chancellor.
An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office into the apparent cover-up denounced Acoba for a ‘shortfall in public interest transparency’. And last night Labour MP John Mann said: ‘The advisory committee is not fit for purpose and its chair must now resign.
‘There is far too much cosying up to banks. It is as if BlackRock had taken shares in the Treasury.’
The row comes as Mr Osborne himself faces controversy over his new job with BlackRock, which will pay him more than £200,000 a year to work as an adviser while he is still an MP.
His appointment was also waved through by Acoba and there are growing calls for reform of the committee and the rules surrounding MPs and second jobs.
Acoba is supposed to vet ministers and senior civil servants when they take jobs in the private sector. In the past eight years it has looked at more than 370 appointments without blocking a single one. …”