Newly appointed pubs code adjudicator, Paul Newby (pictured), has defended his controversial appointment before a meeting of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee this morning, vowing to be 'totally transparent'.
Newby, who was called to give evidence on the implementation of the upcoming pubs code, was grilled by the committee on his possible conflict of interest in taking the role.
As part of the job he will have powers to arbitrate individual disputes regarding breaches of the code, including disputes between licensees and pub companies on rent, and market rent only options, as well as investigating suspected systemic code breaches.
However, Newby’s former role as a director and property surveyor at commercial property agent Fleurets, saw him act on behalf of some of the largest pubcos including Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns.
Today he vowed he would step away from any future cases that he has had personal involvement with in the past, to abate fears of foul play.
'It is of paramount importance that fairness and transparency goes through the whole process,' he said. 'We want to help the market work better and bring about behavioural change in the industry. We will act fairly, lawfully and transparently.
'Bearing in mind that the number of cases I have been involved with is minuscule, if a case came to us that I had been involved in, I would say there is a personal conflict, and we would have a mechanism in place to deal with that.
'I have thrown away my old hat. I have a new one and new responsibilities.'
Newby also called the current delay in implementing the code 'unhelpful'. Last week it was revealed it would not be introduced on 26 May as planned due to a legislation error. Newby could not confirm when this issue might be resolved.
'My intention is to provide more guidance on how the code should be implemented,' he said. 'I have an enormous concern that for the 12,000 or so tenants out there, a large number don’t have an awareness of the code, or what it means to them.
'Making the market work better and more fairly for them is a very important thing.'