Northampton MP takes on lucrative second job
Former attorney general Michael Ellis will earn several hundred pounds an hour in his new role as a consultant for an international law firm
By Sarah Ward
Former attorney general Michael Ellis has signed a contract with a London law firm that will net him an annual £70,000 for as little as eight hours work a month.
The MP for Northampton North, who held the role of the country’s chief legal officer for both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss governments, has since the start of last month been employed been by Candey Ltd, which has offices in London and New York.
Mr Ellis, who was knighted this summer for political service, had to get his second job signed off by parliament’s business appointments advisory committee, which in its published report told the MP ’there is a risk that your influence could offer Candey Ltd unfair access to the UK government’ and so imposed a series of conditions to mitigate the risk.
It did say that it considered the risk Mr Ellis had been offered the role ‘for decisions made or actions taken in office’ as ‘low’ and that he did not meet or interact with the law firm while in ministerial office.
The Conservative MP, who was first elected as the MP for the Northampton North constituency in 2010, was attorney general from March to September 2021 initially stepping in when attorney general Suella Braveman took maternity leave. He took on the role again when appointed by ill-fated Tory PM Liz Truss in September 2022 and was replaced in the role by Victoria Prentice when Rishi Sunak took over from Truss in October last year. He was solicitor general (the deputy to the attorney general) between July 2019 and March 2021.
Mr Ellis has declared that he will earn around £70,000 per year from the law firm, for between eight and 16 hours per month. In information provided to the appointments advisory committee he said the role would primarily involve providing business development advice, especially in America where the firm is looking to gain new clients.
The committee has imposed a number of conditions on his employment with Candey, including that he should not use privileged information gained in ministerial office; from two years after he left the post of attorney general he should not lobby government on behalf of his employer or undertake any work with Candey that involves providing advice on government contract bids.
For the same period his role with the firm should be limited to matters that do not conflict with his time as attorney general, such as cases or investigations he was involved with as a minister. If he is unsure of a conflict of interest he should consult the advisory committee. He must also not lobby contacts made while in the role of the chief legal officer and must not contact the attorney general’s office relating to matters regarding Candey or its clients.
Mr Ellis is paid £86,000 for his role as MP. His other business interests cited in his register of interests include being a shareholder in the family firm Arnold Estates Ltd.
Like many of the MPs in the county, access to Mr Ellis is limited and mainly through online methods, as he does not hold regular advertised surgeries in his constituency.
(Read our story from last year about the lack of MP surgeries across Northants).
He also does not appear to have a constituency office. Last week he published to social media his annual MP spend and said his office costs were just £3,935 - rather than the £28,570 which is available to all MPs for running a local office. His staffing costs came in at £118,339, much lower than the £221,750 allowed.
NN Journal has contacted both Michael Ellis office and the law firm for comment.
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