Former Treasury second perm sec John Kingman cleared for move to insurance giant

Written by Matt Foster on 18 October 2016 in News

Appointments watchdog Acoba says Kingman had "no direct role in most policies that affected" Legal and General during his time at the Treasury

Sir John Kingman, formerly the second-in-command at the Treasury, has been cleared by the appointments watchdog to become chairman of financial services firm Legal and General.

The insurance giant announced in June that Kingman – second permanent secretary at the Treasury until the departure of its perm sec Sir Nicholas Macpherson in April – had been picked for the job, subject to the advice of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which vets moves from Whitehall to the private sector.

In advice published on Tuesday, Acoba said Kingman had had "occasional dealings with Legal & General", but was "not in frequent contact with them" during his time at the Treasury, with the "main relationship with HMT [...] managed elsewhere in the department".

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"The committee also noted that Sir John had some involvement in policy that will have affected Legal & General," it added. 

"However, they took into account the comments of Cabinet Office and HMT that he played no direct role in most policies that affected the company, which were carried out by other teams in the department; and that policies he was directly involved in were strongly pro-consumer."

Kingman threw his hat into the ring to succeed Macpherson as perm sec earlier this year, but he ultimately lost out to Tom Scholar. However, he stepped up to serve as acting perm sec between Macpherson's departure and the arrival of Scholar.

Acoba says Kingman agreed "in the public interest" to stay on at the Treasury "to prevent there being a gap at a critical time", and says he immediately declared the Legal and General approach to his department and ensured arrangements were made "to ensure he stood aside from any related issues" at the finance ministry.

Kingman must not, according to the watchdog, drawn on any privileged information from his time at the Treasury and is banned from becoming "personally involved in lobbying the UK government on behalf of Legal & General or its clients" or from making use of his Treasury contacts for a period of two years from his last day at the department.

Acoba also says Kingman should not attend meetings between chancellor Philip Hammond and the chairs of major insurance companies during this period "to avoid any perception of improper influence on Sir John's part".

A statement from Legal and General's board on Tuesday confirmed that Kingman would start work on October 24. 

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Matt Foster is CSW's deputy editor. He tweets as @CSWDepEd

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