David Mundell under pressure to drop Carillion interim chief exec as adviser

Scotland secretary David Mundell has been urged to drop one of his top advisers due to his links with Carillion.

Scotland secretary David Mundell has been urged to drop one of his top advisers due to his links with Carillion.

Keith Cochrane CBE, sat on the failed construction giant’s committees before taking temporary charge of the company and is also the lead non-executive director at the Scotland Office.

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Mundell has been urged to drop his advisor after Carillion went into liquidation this month after running up debts of around £900m. threatening 20,000 jobs.

Speaking to the Herald SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said: “It is utterly disgraceful that at a time when thousands of Carillion employees don’t even know whether they will have a job to go each morning, the Scotland Office and David Mundell keep in place Keith Cochrane as an advisor - despite his role in the shoddy and shambolic running of Carillion.

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“His role as an advisor to the Scotland Office is untenable, and a failure by David Mundell to remove him from his post would be a glaring insult to workers and taxpayers, and seriously call into question his judgement.”

Despite warnings over their profits Carillion continued to benefit from a number of Government contracts despite mounting debt.

Indeed, sources have claimed that the onstruction giant was owed £40 million by the Government when it went into liquidation.

Keith Cochrane, who is involved in the firm also plays a prominent role in Westminster and services in a paid role as the ‘non executive director’ for the Scotland Office and Office of the Advocate General.

The group which is chaired by Mundell is seen as a voice for Scotland in Westminster.

And it would appear from the annual report of the group that the Carillion boss is an important figure in Mundell’s team: “Keith Cochrane has undertaken a significant programme of engagement with Lead NEDs from across UK Government departments.

“This direct engagement has supported and enhanced the work by the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scotland Office Director, at Ministerial and Permanent Secretary level, to heighten awareness of devolution across Whitehall.

“Since Keith Cochrane’s appointment the visibility of the Non-Executive Board Members have increased considerably, especially across Government.”

It is understood that as well as sitting on the Scotland Office joint management board, the advisor to Mr Mundell is paid a fee of £300 for each meeting he attends at the Scotland Office.

He is also listed as being part of a wider network of non-executive directors across the UK Government that discusses the priorities of Theresa May’s administration.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “This is deeply embarrassing for David Mundell and the Scottish Tories. Not only has Carillion’s interim boss been deeply involved with the company during its demise - but he’s also advising a senior member of Theresa May’s cabinet. This revelation shows the need for a real review of how our public services are delivered.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “All UK Government departments have external NEDs to provide strategic advice to their management boards in accordance with the Government’s corporate governance code.

“The Scotland Office has no contracts with Carillion and has had no role in any decision-making in relation to other public sector contracts. Mr Cochrane continues in his role with the Scotland Office.”