Theresa Villiers: Ex-environment secretary failed to declare Shell shareson August 11, 2023 at 12:11 am

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Theresa Villiers apologises for failing to declare a stake in the oil firm worth at least £70,000 for five years.

Theresa VilliersImage source, Getty Images

A former environment secretary has revealed she failed to declare tens of thousands of pounds of shares she held in oil giant Shell while in the role.

Tory MP Theresa Villiers said she had held a stake in the firm worth over £70,000 since February 2018.

But she only declared it last month along with similar holdings in drinks giant Diageo and finance firm Experian.

She “deeply” regretted “her failure to monitor the value of shareholdings”, a spokesman told the Daily Mirror.

MPs are meant to declare all shareholdings worth over £70,000.

Her spokesman added that it had not occurred to her that any of the stakes would pass the threshold but they did after she received a legacy in 2018.

Ms Villiers, MP for the London seat of Chipping Barnet, alerted the Commons authorities “as soon as she realised this”, the spokesman said.

Her latest declaration reveals she has held a stake worth more than £70,000 in Shell since February 2018.

This was more than a year before she was appointed to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs under Boris Johnson in July 2019, a role she held until February 2020.

She registered the stake on 17 July this year, along with stakes over the same amount in Diageo, also from February 2018, and Experian, from July 2019.

On the same day, she also registered a shareholding over the threshold in RIT Capital Partners, an investment trust.

On 2 August, she registered a fifth stake over the amount in Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, with records showing she held it between 6 and 20 July this year.

The spokesman for Ms Villiers said her shares were part of a professionally managed portfolio, for which she had “never taken day-to-day investment decisions”.

“Nothing she has ever said or done as MP has been influenced by these shareholdings,” he added, but she was “taking steps to ensure that this never happens again”.

“She takes full responsibility for the mistake. She accepts that it should never have happened, and that she should have kept track of the additions to her investment portfolio,” the spokesman added.

The shareholdings she held during her time as environment secretary did not appear on the separate ministerial register of interests published during her time in the job.

The spokesman said that when she had started the role, she told the department about her shares and offered to put them in a “blind” trust, where she would not have known how the money was invested.

However the prime minister’s ethics adviser at the time, Sir Alex Allan, advised her this was unnecessary because “the portfolio was managed for her and she did not take investment decisions”, he added.

“Nothing she did as [environment] secretary was influenced by any of these shareholdings,” the spokesman added.

Ms Villiers entered Parliament in 2005 and was a rail minister for just over two years under David Cameron.

She was promoted to Northern Ireland secretary in 2012, a role she held until Mr Cameron’s resignation after the Brexit referendum in 2016.

She returned to the cabinet in the environment role under Mr Johnson but was reshuffled out of his cabinet nine months later.

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