The sun has risen to a new stench in the air as the latest so-called Tory sleaze crisis permeates throughout the atmosphere.

This time, former party leader Iain Duncan Smith – lazily known as IDS – is facing questions over his £25,000 a year second gig advising a multimillion-pound hand sanitiser company because he chaired a government taskforce that recommended new rules benefiting the firm.

As first reported by the Guardian, The MP led the Task Force on Innovation, Growth, and Regulatory Reform, which reported back in May, and recommended that alcohol-free hand sanitiser be given the green light for use in the UK, without acknowledging that he worked for a company that makes it, Byotrol.

“Hand hygiene (washing and sanitising) has been a crucial response to the coronavirus pandemic,” the task force report said.

“Current guidelines in the UK on non-alcohol based hand sanitisers are unclear. As a result, there is confusion in industry and among consumers as to what products are safe and effective to use, and we may be unnecessarily limiting the range of sanitising products available.

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“Government should review current guidance to place alcohol and non-alcohol-based on a level playing field.”

Byotrol supplies the NHS with 92 per cent of its alcohol-free sanitiser. The MP is still employed by the company and was also one of its directors from June 2009 to May 2010.

In a message to investors following the task force report, the company welcomed how an “influential UK government-sponsored taskforce has recommended a regulatory ‘green light’ for alcohol-free hand sanitisers”. Its directors were also quoted in a report as saying that it delivered a “powerful boost” to the firm.

Meanwhile, in August, the company announced that its revenue almost doubled and its pre-tax profits rocketed by more than 600 per cent following “exceptional demand” for its sanitising technologies due to the pandemic. It reported a revenue of £11.2m for the 12 months to 31 March, up from £6m the previous year.

And so, IDS has submerged himself into a quagmire.

Reacting to the news, people were annoyed about the addition of another chapter to the sleaze story.

Speaking to the Guardian, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner accused IDS of a “brazen conflict of interest”.

“The prime minister needs to explain why he think it is justified for one of his MPs to be paid by a company that stands to benefit from a recommendation of a taskforce chaired by that same MP,” she said.

“This is exactly the kind of brazen conflict of interest that proves that the Conservatives think it is one rule for them and another for the rest of us.”

She continued: “Did this MP declare an interest when these matters were discussed and reported on by the task force? Why is the prime minister failing to act over these glaring conflicts of interest?”

Meanwhile, Steve Goodrich, head of research and investigations at Transparency International UK, told the publication: “The informality of a government taskforce might seem like an agile way to develop new policy but without basic governance arrangements it provides an open door to vested interests.

“If those proposing a major reform [could] benefit from it financially, this should at least be a matter of public record and probably should be subject to independent review.”

Labour MP Rupa Huq included him in a “list of sleazy Tories”:

While journalist Ian Dunt called it “utterly tawdry”:

Here’s how other people reacted:

Indy100 has contacted IDS and Byotrol to comment on this story.

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