POLITICS

Ex-Africa Minister Henry Bellingham's New Mining Job 'Corrodes Trust In Politics'

19/02/2014 15:31 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 16:59 GMT
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI via Getty Images
British Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham speaks on February 16, 2011 about relations with Nigeria at the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos. Bellingham is in Nigeria as part of an African tour. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Tory MP Henry Bellingham, who served as Africa minister until 2012, has got a new job as chairman of Pathfinder Minerals, which is fighting for control of its mining assets in Mozambique.

Critics warned that Bellingham's new job, his sixth directorship alongside his current job as Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk, "corrodes trust in politics".

Alexandra Runswick, director of the pro-transparency Unlock Democracy campaign, told HuffPostUK: "The revolving door whereby former ministers take paid employment with companies they were involved with in their government role corrodes trust in politics.

"Politicians have a privileged position and this should be used for public service not developing a future business career."

Green MEP candidate Rupert Read said: "It is dismaying that some MPs seem to regard being an MP as a minor sideline to making money in dodgy big businesses."

Bellingham, who as minister took a "close personal interest" in Pathfinder Minerals' mine in Mozambique, will now be paid to help sort out a legal dispute that arose after it was seized in 2012 by former general Jacinto Veloso.

Prime minister David Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague raised the issue of Pathfinder Minerals' control of its mining assets with Mozambique president Armando Guebuza at a meeting in 2012, the firm said.

A spokesman for Pathfinder Minerals confirmed to HuffPostUK that Bellingham, a wealthy former barrister, will be paid "like all non-executive directors are".

“Henry reinforces Pathfinder’s board with a combination of both business and diplomatic skills. As a frequent visitor to the region, Henry is well respected in Mozambique.”

Bellingham said in a statement: "As the former Minister for Africa, I am acutely aware of Mozambique's will to work with international companies to develop responsibly the vast natural resource capacity of the country.

"I share my fellow directors' aim to restore control to Pathfinder of the heavy mineral sand deposits in Zambezia Province acquired by Pathfinder in 2011; and to develop them for the benefit of Mozambique and of Pathfinder's shareholders."

Bellingham's new post comes alongside five other directorships, having declared non-executive directorships of fishing firm Pontus Marine and Developing Markets Associates, as well as being director of the Global Law Summit 2015, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Policy Research Unit Limited.

According to the Register of Members' Interests, Bellingham declared over June to October that he received £15,000 for "carrying out duties as a non-executive director" and chairing sessions at a DMA conference on inward investment.

Last year, Ed Miliband called for a cap on how much MPs could earn from second jobs, warning: "The British people expect their MPs to be representing them and the country not anyone else."

This came after an analysis by the Guardian found that 20 MPs were making more from outside jobs than they were from Parliament.

Bellingham's appointment as chairman was good news for the mining firm with Pathfinder's shares soaring 14.7% to 0.545p following the news, putting it in the top five movers on Tuesday on the AIM sub-market of the London Stock Exchange.