UK lawmaker's appointment as newspaper editor raises questions

Mr Osborne, a former finance minister, has been named as the editor of London's Evening Standard.
Mr Osborne, a former finance minister, has been named as the editor of London's Evening Standard.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Former UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne's appointment as editor of London's Evening Standard is drawing scrutiny from bodies that set the rules on whether lawmakers are able to hold two jobs.

The Guardian said on Sunday the official body that advises ministers on taking work outside Parliament, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, disapproved of Mr Osborne's decision to announce his job only four days after asking for its advice.

London's Sunday Times said Parliament's Privileges Committee is drawing up a report that may prevent Mr Osborne from holding his newest job.

The paper also said that the chairman of another body, the advisory Committee on Standards in Public Life, Mr Paul Bew, was "uncomfortable" with Mr Osborne's professional arrangements.

The former finance minister was dumped by Prime Minister Theresa May last July after being accused of waging a fear campaign to keep Britain in the European Union. His new job has been mocked by many journalism veterans and former editors.

Mr Osborne already has several other paying jobs, including an advisory role at investment firm BlackRock that pays £650,000 (S$1.12 million) a year. He plans to edit the Evening Standard while still being the MP for Tatton in north-west England, for which he is paid about £75,000.

Ms Patti Goddard, president of the Tatton Conservative Association, told the Guardian that Mr Osborne had the full support of his constituency organisation.

But the paper also reported that Ms Carla Flynn, editor of the Knutsford Guardian, the local paper of Mr Osborne's constituency, said it had received an increasing number of letters questioning Mr Osborne's commitment to Tatton.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a by-election in Tatton.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'UK lawmaker's appointment as newspaper editor raises questions'. Print Edition | Subscribe