Hutchison appoints controversial UK politician as adviser

Hutchison appoints controversial UK politician as adviser
Grayling served as UK transport secretary between 2016 and 2019

Chris Grayling, the former UK transport secretary infamous for awarding a ferry contract to a company with no vessels, has been appointed as an adviser to Hutchison Ports.

While continuing to work as an MP, he will be paid £100,000 (US$130,000) annually for the job which requires seven hours work per week.

Grayling’s role will be limited to Hutchison’s environmental strategy, which aims to reduce the carbon footprint and air quality impact of its UK and European operations, as well as the operator’s plan to establish partnerships with regional bodies in the UK.

The MP has been cleared to take the role by the UK’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, with the condition that he cannot lobby the UK government on behalf of Hutchison Ports Europe or advise the operator on his work on planning for a no-deal Brexit.

In particular, Grayling cannot advise on current or prospective roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) operations, shipping companies which are current or prospective clients of Hutchison’s UK ports, Hutchison’s competitors in the UK and the government’s plans for trading relationships post-Brexit.

Grayling’s tenure as transport secretary, which lasted from 2016 to 2019, was notable for the award of a £13.8m (US$18m) contract to Seaborne Freight to provide extra ferry capacity between Ramsgate and Ostend if the UK exited the EU without a deal.

This was despite Seaborne Freight having never run a ferry service and having no ships. The contract was later cancelled and Eurotunnel, operator of the Channel Tunnel, took legal action against the Department of Transport over the process, receiving an out of court settlement of £33m (US$43m).