Victoria Atkins MP has stepped down from part of her ministerial brief relating to cannabis after it was revealed that her husband’s company was granted a Home Office licence to grow medicinal cannabis in Norfolk, for export to America.
The Louth and Horncastle MP, who was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability in November last year, has been accused of a ‘massive conflict of interest’, as her husband Paul Kenward is the managing director of British Sugar - which was granted a licence to grow non-psychoactive cannabis for medicinal use back in 2016.
However, Ms Atkins herself has previously spoken out against cannabis law reforms.
This week, it was revealed that Ms Atkins has now ‘voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis’, according to the Home Office.
The Home Office also confirmed that contrary to some initial reports, Ms Atkins declared her husband’s business activities in Parliament, both when she was a backbencher and when she was appointed as a minister.
It is understood that Nick Hurd MP, the policing and fire minister, has been tasked with answering questions on drugs on behalf of the government instead.
Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, told the national press: “Obviously it is a ridiculous conflict of interests.
“She should not have been appointed as a Home Office minister. I am sure she is a very able woman but this is a clear conflict of interests.”
Victoria Atkins MP has been approached for comment.
It is the second set back for Ms Atkins in recent weeks.
During a live radio interview last month, she admitted she did not know how many police officers there were in the country.
• Read more on this story in the next edition of the paper (May 16).