The executive of a water company that embarrasses itself for contaminating the ocean is married to the Tory assigned to handle the sewage crisis.
In the reshuffle, Steve Barclay was promoted from his previous position as Health Secretary to Environment Secretary.
Karen, the spouse of the cabinet minister, is employed by Anglian Water, a company under fire for discharging sewage into the surrounding area. Previously serving as the water company’s Head of Public Affairs, Mrs. Barclay is currently its Head of Regional Engagement.
As public outrage over pollution in rivers and seas grows, Anglian Water has issued an apology for multiple sewage spills. entered a guilty plea in April for allowing 7.5 million liters of untreated sewage to spill into the North Sea, which is the same as three Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The largest fine ever levied for environmental offenses in the east of England region was £2.7 million. “Finding itself in court so frequently” was the reason for the water company’s fine, according to the judge.
Anglian Water’s June ad campaign, which extolled the virtues of converting wetlands into wildlife havens, was outlawed for failing to disclose the company’s track record to consumers. The watchdog maintained the complaints that the advertisements contained “substantial information” about “Anglian Water’s history of releasing sewage into the environment,” which was missing, making them deceptive.
On the most recent List of Ministers’ Interests, which was released in April, Mr. Barclay revealed his wife’s employment. “The minister’s spouse/partner works for Anglian Water,” his entry said.
In the reshuffle, he takes the place of Therese Coffey, who resigned as Environment Secretary. The seasoned minister declared that it was “now the right time to step back from government” in a letter to the prime minister.
Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth said: “Steve Barclay is picking up a brief that has been neglected throughout the majority of his party’s time in office – there is a lot of lost time to make up for. Given the dire state of nature in the UK, he must start by urgently addressing the poor performances of polluting water companies and the regulator Ofwat.”
Rebecca Newsom of Greenpeace UK said: “At the last election, the Conservative party was promising “the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth. Now the in-tray for the incoming Environment Secretary is filling up faster than a river downstream from a sewage plant.”
A Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs spokesman said: “All Defra Ministers declare their interests in line with the Ministerial Code. There is an established regime in place for the declaration and management of interests held by ministers. This ensures that steps are taken to avoid or mitigate any potential or perceived conflicts of interest.”