Former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns lands second side job outside Westminster

Alun Cairns. Picture by Cabinet Office (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alun Cairns has doubled the money he makes outside Parliament by accepting a second side job.

The Vale of Glamorgan MP will make £15,000-a-year by providing “strategic advice” to private hire taxi operator Veezu, the register of MPs’ interest shows.

It comes just two months after Nation.Cymru revealed Cairns had accepted a £15,000-a-year job as an advisor to the BBI Group, a firm working on Covid-19 tests.

And it means the former secretary of state for Wales now earns more from his side jobs than the average annual earnings of workers across Wales (£25,680) or in his constituency (£28,022).

His total earnings are at least £121,932-a-year when his £81,932 MPs’ salary and income from a rental property in Cardiff are taken into account.

His commitment of up to 70 hours to each role also means he could spend the equivalent of three and a half working weeks on his outside interests.

Cairns says he has consulted ACoBA, the UK government’s anti-corruption watchdog, about the new appointment but their advice has not yet been published.

The watchdog last month banned him from lobbying the UK Government for the BBI Group for two years from the day he quit as Secretary of State for Wales.

 

‘Leading’

Cairns’ new role is with a company run by the same businessman who helped him land the job with the BBI Group.

Cairns “noted this opportunity came about as you know the Chairman of the BBI group through fundraising work for the NSPCC,” ACoBA reported in July.

The chairman of the BBI Group, Alan Peterson, became the director of Veezu earlier this year.

As well as fundraising, Cairns has also spoken at a black tie dinner at Cardiff Castle sponsored by Peterson.

Cairns’ new employer, Veezu, describes itself as the “UK’s leading multi-region private hire taxi company” and took over Cardiff’s Dragon Taxis in 2015.

Veezu’s website promises prospective drivers: “When you partner with Veezu you gain the flexibility and support you need to drive your way to success.”

But the company has been criticised over its treatment of drivers and trade unions by Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth.

Speaking in the Commons in 2017, Doughty said: “I am concerned that companies such as Dragon and Veezu, who operate taxi firms, are not willing to meet drivers to discuss their concerns or to meet the GMB. That is of great concern to me.”

Later that year he said the company had “dealt with some of the charges and unfair fees that drivers faced.”

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