Sir Edward Troup has been cleared to start a new job as a senior tax consultant at global management consultant McKinsey, but only with the proviso that he does not give other EU countries Brexit-related advice.
Anti-corruption watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments said there were “some risks” related to the former HM Revenue & Customs permanent secretary taking on a new role in the tax-advice sector under the government’s rules.
The panel, which vets jobs sought by former senior civil servants and ministers for two years after they leave office, said there was also a risk of Troup’s new job being seen as a reward for decisions made in office “including HMRC paying McKinsey £680,000 to help design a Brexit customs arrangement”.
But the panel also observed that Troup had worked as a professional tax lawyer prior to joining HMRC and so would be returning into an area where he had worked before becoming a civil servant.
Troup left his HMRC role, which had a salary band of £170,000 to £175,000, in January and would normally be bound to adhere to appointment rules that bar former civil servants from using privileged information from their former jobs or lobbying government on behalf of their new employers for two years.
He told the Acoba he expected to be providing high-level advice on enforcement, compliance, strategy and organisation to “any particular client tax administration” in his new part-time role, and said he would be drawing on his experience as a tax professional and work with HMRC and HM Treasury.
Acoba said Troup had argued that he would not be using any confidential information and that there “should be no conflict with any UK interests” because the advice would be intended to support client administrations improve their own tax-collection structures and processes.
It said that Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood had raised no objections to Troup’s new role, while McKinsey’s principal competitors – Deloitte, PWC, PA Consulting, EY, and KPMG – had not done so either.
But in the panel’s decision letter, Acoba secretariat Nicola Richardson said it was “relevant” that Troup was moving to a role advising overseas tax administrations at a time when the UK’s customs relationship with the rest of the world was a central issue for the UK’s fiscal policy.
“The committee is aware that Brexit issues have been moving quickly over the last few months and that Sir Edward left his post in January,” she said. “Nevertheless, the committee considered it would be appropriate to impose a specific constraint on Sir Edward advising on Brexit-related issues.”
Acoba’s bespoke conditions for Troup bar him from advising EU tax administrations for two years from 15 January this year, “where that advice would be directly relevant to Brexit-related issues”.
They also bar him from working on UK tax affairs for the same period, and on the tax affairs of McKinsey or any of its clients other than overseas tax administrations.
Nicholson’s letter said that had Troup sought to take up the role with McKinsey immediately after leaving HMRC it would have looked to impose a waiting period on him, but that it believed the six-month gap that there had been was “appropriate”.
Troup told Acoba he did not apply for an advertised post, but had been approached by McKinsey about the role after he retired from office.
At HMRC Troup shared the title of “permanent secretary” with Jon Thompson, with the dual chiefs responsible for different aspects of the department's operations. Troup’s successor Jim Harra has the title “second permanent secretary”.