The Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, is facing increasing pressure over his relationship with Energy Consultant, Miriam Maes, after the Minister attended several meetings with clients from Maes' private consultancy firm, Forsee.
A freedom of information request for all Maes’ correspondence during her time at DECC has revealed that Maes repeatedly made requests for Barker to meet with her client Air Products. The documents also reveal that Barker met with Air Products on at least three separate occasions.
One email sent from Maes to Barker in February last year, stated: “This week we discussed briefly the request by one of my clients Air Products to meet with you…It would be great if you could meet for 45 minutes with their [Air Products] US based global Vice President Energy. Please find below more detailed information. I will send a formal request in through [redacted] but could you give it a gentle nudge if needed?
Mr Barker replied: “Of course, let's get it in the diary but let's have a chat rather than email.”
The released emails move on to later show that Maes appeared to work with Barker to help draft a statement in support of Air Products for a press release. The statement from Barker read: “I welcome the progress that Air Products has made with its project to bring advanced gasification to the UK…This new technology will be an exciting addition to the energy from waste sector and I look forward to seeing the announcement of more of these projects.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Miriam Maes defended her role as advisor, stating: “I declared the clients I had in Foresee, of which Air Products was one. Air Products was also mentioned on my CV and DECC was aware of my commercial relationships in my consultancy as part of the recruitment process and beyond.” Maes continued: “DECC contracted with Foresee as an adviser to the department because of my expert knowledge on energy efficiency, decentralised energy and transmission and distribution . In addition, I provided views to Decc and the minister on a pro bono basis.”
During Prime Minister’s question time, David Cameron revealed that the Cabinet Secretary and the Permanent Secretary have both cleared Greg Barker of any wrongdoing and that the he “does not see a need for further inquiry.”