A cross-party group of British MPs lobbied for fuel additives as an alternative to the ban on petrol vehicles while failing to disclose it was run by a fuel additive salesman.
The all party parliamentary group (APPG) is managed by FairFuel UK, a campaign organisation that has pushed against fuel duties and environmental measures for more than a decade.
In October last year the group published a 64-page report calling for the immediate withdrawal of a proposed ban on petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Instead the MPs urged the government to investigate the use of fuel catalysts, which they said were “proven to cut emissions and fuel consumption in fossil fuels”.
The report states that it was “produced and paid for” by FairFuel UK, whose founder Howard Cox is listed as the public contact point for the parliamentary group.
But the report did not disclose that Cox also owns a business that markets a fuel additive called Ultimum 5, for which he owns the trademark. Lembit Opik, a former Liberal Democrat MP and reality TV star, is Cox’s business partner in the venture and, like Cox, has repeatedly denied the prevailing scientific view that man-made climate change is rapidly heating the planet.
One of the listed contributors to the report is Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think-tank described by one critic as the “UK’s main club for climate deniers”.
GWPF recently rebranded its campaigning arm as Net Zero Watch to highlight what it claims are the unaffordable costs of Britain reaching carbon neutrality. Steve Baker, a Conservative backbencher and GWPF trustee best known as an organiser of the hardline pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, recently formed a Net Zero Scrutiny Group in parliament.
Baker’s Net Zero group overlaps with the FairFuel APPG. Its chairman, Craig Mackinlay, is also chair of the FairFuel APPG and has recruited GWPF staff to his office.
Cox told SourceMaterial that he was resigning his directorship of Ultimum 5 and denied there was any conflict of interest, saying that he had not made any money from the business and that the chairman of the APPG was aware of his role.
“I’m very passionate about lowering emissions”, he said. “I’m resigning from Ultimum 5. You have done your bit by rubbishing me.”
The APPG’s members include Robert Halfon, a Conservative MP described on FairFuelUK’s website as a “long-time supporter” and a member of the Net Zero group who has urged the government to adopt fuel additives to reduce carbon emissions and dangerous fumes.
Speaking in parliament in July 2019, he asked the transport secretary Chris Grayling to meet him and Cox to discuss the issue. The request came after Cox had been approached by investors interested in acquiring Ultimum’s patents.
In September 2019, shortly after Cox secured the trademark for the Ultimum 5 name, Halfon was quoted in support of fuel additives in a report about FairFuel polling on petrol and diesel costs.
“Not only do they work to reduce fuel consumption and help us to reach our climate change targets, they are a viable, cost-saving option for motorists and the Treasury”, he said.
The quote was later used for promotional purposes on the Ultimum 5 website.
A spokesperson for Halfon said: “Robert has no shares in this, or any other company in a related business. He has consistently campaigned on behalf of constituents and motorists throughout the UK against further rises in fuel or tax duty.”