Another conflict of interest in yet another NI Water review team…

You can never quite guess which way this Northern Ireland Water story is going next. So now there’s another question hanging over the appointment of a review team set up to look at the foul up over Christmas announced within hours of the conclusion of Mr MacKenzie’s negotiation over his departure deal on Friday.

Two days into his appointment as CEO, MacKenzie learned that he was to have two bosses. The duly Board of the GoCo of course, but he was also to report to the Permanent Secretary, Paul Priestly, both directly and through the department’s Shareholder Unit.

However Mr Priestly was suspended for authoring the text of a letter attacking the PAC and giving it to a member of his Independent Review Team (whose *final* report had been material to the sacking of the previous NI Board last March), Mr Peter Dixon, Managing Director of Phoenix Gas to sign, pass off as his own and send to the PAC’s chair Paul Maskey.

Now it has been confirmed that Peter Dixon’s friend and former director of Phoenix Gas, Phil Holder is one of the three named to review Northern Ireland Water’s absymal response to the cold weather crisis over Christmas. Indeed Mr Holder, who (unlike the current Board of NI Water) does have a strong background and understanding of in the water industry, currently works for Phoenix’s sister company (Note: we’ve been informed that the two companies parted company about five years ago), East Surrey Holdings.

In our book that is as a clear conflict of interest as you will find anywhere.