Health and social care secretary says no conflict of interest over husband’s sugar role

Health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins
Health and social care secretary Victoria Atkins

Newly appointed health and social secretary Victoria Atkins has batted away concerns over a potential conflict of interest with her husband’s senior role in the UK sugar industry.

Atkins who was appointed in a major cabinet reshuffle last week is married to British Sugar managing director Paul Kenward.

Speaking to the BBC, Atkins said: “Anyone that knows me knows I am very independently minded and so I voted enthusiastically for the sugar tax when that came before Parliament a number of years ago and I have always been scrupulous in ensuring that those interests are declared and that I recuse myself from any such decisions not because I think I am at risk of being in any way influenced but I am very conscious of the perception of that.”

Atkins acknowledged a “slightly complicated relationship” as she is a type one diabetic.

The health and social care secretary said she was “focused on ensuring the health of our country”.

Atkins previously faced allegations of “hypocrisy” in 2018 in her former role of drugs minister when it emerged that British Sugar was licensed to grow non-psychoactive cannabis.

The cabinet member has held a number of roles in government in the Ministry of Justice, Home Office and the Treasury.

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