Letter of Advice: Jeane Freeman, Ambassador for Community Engagement, Public Health and Innovation, University of Glasgow


You have contacted the Advisory Committee on Professional Appointments (the Committee) under the Rules on Government Professional Appointments for Former Ministers (the Rules) for advice on the possibility of assuming the role of Ambassador for community engagement, public health and innovation for the University of Glasgow (U of G). Important information considered by the Committee is presented in the appendix below.

The purpose of the Rules is to protect the integrity of government. Under the rules, the committee’s mandate is to review the risks associated with actions and decisions made during the term, as well as the information and influence a former minister can offer the U of G.

The Ministerial Code stipulates that ministers must comply with the advice of the Committee. It is the candidate’s personal responsibility to manage the merits of any appointment. Former Ministers of the Crown and Members of Parliament are expected to uphold the highest standards of propriety and act in accordance with the 7 Principles of Public Life.

1. Committee review

The committee[footnote 1] took into account that while you were meeting with U of G in the office, it was to specifically discuss student Covid-19 testing in your role as Cabinet Secretary for Health. Also, you did not make any decisions that specifically affected the U of G. Therefore, there is no evidence that this role was offered as a reward for decisions made in power.

The committee noted that there are inherent risks that you will undoubtedly have general access to policy and information that could be perceived as benefiting the U of G, particularly as your role will involve the public health. However, the Committee noted that your former ministry had no concerns and that more than four months have passed since you took office. Nevertheless, the Committee draws your attention to the restriction of the use of privileged information, subject to all former ministers in the event of departure from the government.

Additionally, although you would not expect this role to include contacts with the Scottish Government, the committee noted that you would have gained contacts within the Scottish Government which could benefit the U of G. This is particularly relevant as there is a relationship between the U of G and the Scottish Government. However, you are not permitted to lobby the Scottish Government and provide advice on government tenders and contracts, thereby mitigating the risk of irregularity in relation to any future funding from the Scottish Government and its independent bodies.

2. Committee advice

In line with government business appointment rules, the committee advises that this role with the University of Glasgow is subject to the conditions below:

  • you must not take advantage of (disclose or use for your benefit or that of the persons or organizations to which this notice refers) any inside information that you have had since your ministerial mandate or in any capacity in which you continue to work with the Scottish Government;

  • For two years from your last day in office, you must not become personally involved in lobbying the Scottish Government or its independent bodies on behalf of the University of Glasgow and all of its constituents (including corporations parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and customers); you must also not use, directly or indirectly, your contacts in government and/or ministerial office to influence policy, obtain business/funding or take unfair advantage of the University of Glasgow and all its components (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and customers); and

  • for two years from your last day of Crown service, you must not undertake any work with the University of Glasgow and any of its constituent parties (including parent companies, subsidiaries, partners and clients) which involves providing advice on the terms or in relation to the subject of a tender with, or a contract directly related to, the work of the Scottish Government or its independent bodies.

The Committee also notes that in addition to the conditions imposed on this appointment, separate rules are in place regarding your role as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons.

By “inside information”, we mean official information to which a Minister or Crown servant has had access by reason of his office or employment and which has not been made public. Applicants are also reminded that they may be subject to other confidentiality obligations, whether under the Official Secrets Act, the Departmental Code/Civil Service Code or otherwise.

The corporate appointment rules explain that the restriction on lobbying means that the former Crown official/minister “should not engage in communication with government (ministers, civil servants, including special advisers, and other officials/relevant public office holders) – wherever it takes place – for the purpose of influencing a government decision, policy or contract/grant award related to their own interests or the interests of the organization through which they are employed, with whom they are under contract or with whom they exercise a function.

I would be grateful if you would let us know as soon as you undertake this work or if it is announced that you will. Otherwise, we will not be able to process any requests as we do not release information about appointments that have not been made or advertised. This could lead to a false assumption as to whether you have complied with the Ministerial Code. Likewise, I would be grateful if you would let us know if you propose to extend or change your role within the organization as, depending on the circumstances, you may need to seek further advice.

As soon as this appointment has been publicly announced or accepted, we will publish this letter on the Committee’s website and, where appropriate, we will refer to it in the corresponding annual report.

3. Appendix – Material Information

3.1 The role

You said the UofG is a Russel Group university.

You said that as an Ambassador for Community Engagement, Public Health and Innovation, your role will be to:

  • Champion the interface between the U of G and the local community initially in the Govan area of ​​Glasgow, including the flagship living lab and links with Clyde Mission and the Riverside Innovation District and engage with a wide range of industrial, economic development and trade organizations.

  • Support as an “essential friend” to the strategic planning and ambition of the University, particularly in relation to alignment with local communities

  • Support the work of the University in its role with the Glasgow Center for Population Health with a particular focus on engaging with local communities, community champions and groups to mainstream understanding of the factors leading to health inequities

  • Exemplary teaching – a limited number of plenary lectures focusing on leadership in various disciplines and including the new master’s courses combined with business skills.

You would not expect the role to include contact with the UK government.

3.2 Business in the office

You stated that you have dealt with Universities Scotland specifically on matters relating to COVID-19 over the past 2 years.

You informed the Committee that you were involved in a discussion on the Lighthouse Lab network[footnote 2] and indirectly through discussions with all Scottish university bodies, Universities Scotland (Universities Scotland is the representative body for Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions), on COVID-19 testing arrangements for students.

You also said you were the lead minister behind legislation which was approved by the Scottish Parliament in the last session to remove the historic ban on St Andrew’s University awarding the full medical degree[footnote 3]. You confirmed that there was no opposition to this from other medical schools in Scotland and that the legislation was passed unanimously.

You said that the Scottish Government’s Health Directorate maintains a relationship with all the university medical and veterinary schools in Scotland, of which the U of G is one. In addition, academic members of the University, as well as others, are members of the advisory group to the First Minister of Scotland on matters relating to COVID-19.

You have confirmed that you have no involvement in regulatory work with the sector or in relation to global funding agreements.

3.3 Department evaluation

The Scottish Government has been consulted on this appointment and has confirmed the details you have provided. He confirmed that recent exchanges with the UofG show that they continue to see a connection between the legacy of Lighthouse Lab’s work and the new Living Laboratory program. Large parts of the Living Laboratory program involve the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government said you were not involved in any decision-making.

The Scottish Government has also noted that you refer to supporting the work of the University in its role with the Glasgow Center for Population Health. He said the Scottish Government is currently the sole funder, but the funding agreement predates your tenure as Cabinet Secretary and you have no direct involvement in those funding decisions.

The Scottish government has said that any inside information you have access to as Cabinet Secretary will be subject to strict confidentiality obligations.

The Department confirmed they had no concerns and said your knowledge of the Scottish health sector and experience of the Scottish Government made you very well suited to the role of Ambassador.

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