Tory MP for The Wrekin, Mark Pritchard, stands to earn £153,600 in the next 12 months from three jobs with companies that have an interest in fossil fuels.
A new update to Pritchard’s register of interest shows that the MP has accepted a £46,800 a year role with the Texas-based Focal Point Energy LLP, an energy investment and development company that works for fossil fuel firms. The company is run by a former energy adviser to Donald Trump’s administration, and is advised by a former Republican senator who has questioned climate science.
This income adds to the £48,000 a year role that Pritchard accepted earlier in the year with the engineering firm Redway AG, which appears to include oil companies among its clients.
Since May 2022, Pritchard has also been an adviser to US firm Linden Energy, where he picks up a salary equivalent to £58,800 per year. Linden Energy has a 50 percent stake in Bulgaria’s largest private natural gas company, Overgas, and has downplayed the impact of fossil fuels on the climate crisis.
The total earned by Pritchard consulting for these three companies is almost double his MP’s salary of £84,144. His total income puts him in the top 1 percent of earners in the UK.
Green Party Co-leader Adrian Ramsay said it is “unacceptable” that Pritchard holds multiple jobs with fossil fuel-linked firms “when we are in the midst of a climate crisis”.
The announcement of Pritchard’s new consultancy roles follows the revelation that the Conservatives received £600,000 in the final quarter of 2022 from individuals and firms linked to high-pollution industries.
Fossil fuel funders
Pritchard attracted criticism from climate campaigners when his role at Linden Energy was announced last year. The MP, who was first elected to Parliament to represent his Shropshire constituency in 2005, was hired as a strategic marketing communications adviser, expected to deliver 12 hours of work a month.
Linden Energy is an “energy investment and development” company whose “key partners” include several oil and gas firms. Linden Energy acquired its 50 percent stake in Overgas in July 2022, buying shares that were previously held by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom.
The Observer found that Linden Energy executives had pushed for the increased use of fossil fuels while downplaying the role of carbon emissions in the climate crisis. Speaking to The Observer, Linden Energy Chief Operating Officer Ray Leonard said that the firm did not spread “climate denial” but instead simply “showed the data”.
The Green Party has called for Pritchard to resign from his role at Linden Energy. But, instead, in August 2022 Pritchard received a 25 percent pay rise and was elevated to the position of Lead Marketing Counsel and Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board.
Since then, Pritchard’s energy ties have multiplied. In recent months he was appointed as a marketing adviser to Redway AG, where he now dedicates 12 hours a month of his time.
Redway AG is a Switzerland-based firm which, according to its company records, specialises in “planning, consulting and general company mandates for renewable energy, oil, water resources, coastal and seaport and other industries, as well as the creation of special machinery”.
Kirkwood Oil and Gas, an engineering company specialising in fossil fuel exploration in West Africa, says that it undertook a six-month offshore project for Redway AG in Lagos, Nigeria.
Most recently, in January, Pritchard accepted another 12 hour a month role for Focal Point Energy, acting as its Marketing Counsel. Focal Point Energy has recently partnered with Insa Oil, one of the leading producers of petroleum products in Bulgaria, for work that reportedly involves expanding its petroleum products portfolio.
Vince Trovato, Executive Director of Focal Point Energy, was an international energy adviser to US President Donald Trump’s administration, which was bullish about fossil fuels, scaling back hundreds of environmental measures and limiting the ability of states to block oil and gas projects.
Former Republican senator Scott Brown is also on the Focal Point Energy advisory board. When asked in 2014 whether he believed that the theory of man-made climate change “has been scientifically proven”, Brown replied: “No”.
Focal Point Energy claims that its “team of experts” include “globally-recognised subject matter experts in oil & gas exploration, the [liquified natural gas] supply chain, as well as the associated climate change implications of traditional energy projects”. It also advises and invests in the field of renewable energy.
While Pritchard has voiced his support for the transition to renewable energy, he has expressed concern about the placement of solar farms on agricultural land.
Pritchard’s involvement in multiple firms with fossil fuel interests conforms to a wider trend in the Conservative Party, which has received substantial donations from polluting interests in recent years.
The Conservatives received more than £600,000 from fossil fuel-linked donors in the final quarter of 2022, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak himself received £141,000 during the party’s 2022 leadership contest from individuals with portfolios that include shares in oil, gas and aviation industries.
Prior to this, from December 2019 to October 2021, the Conservative Party directly received £1.3 million in donations from fossil fuel interests and climate sceptics.
Pritchard is not the only Conservative MP contracted by an energy firm. Since September 2018, John Hayes – MP for South Holland and The Deepings – has earned £50,000 a year for advising BB Energy Trading, a firm that dealt “in excess of 40 million metric tonnes (MT) of crude oil, petroleum product, and gas in 2021”.
Marcus Fysh, Conservative MP for Yeovil, also has a financial interest in numerous fossil fuel and mining companies, including Shell and the world’s largest oilfield services company, Schlumberger. Fysh is a member of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of MPs, which launched in 2021 to push back against the government’s climate policies.
Green co-leader Adam Ramsay said that Sunak “seems to have no interest” in ensuring his MPs act “in the long-term interests of the country”.
There do not appear to be any MPs from other political parties who are currently working for fossil fuel-linked firms.
Pritchard, Linden Energy, Focal Point Energy, Trovato and Andrew Wright (the director of Redway AG) have been approached for comment.