Muirhead quits Airport Commission

MANCHESTER Airports Group’s (MAG) former chief executive Geoff Muirhead has stepped down as a Government adviser on airport expansion after campaigners claimed a conflict of interest.

The Airports Commission is due to present its initial proposals on how to tackle airport capacity problems in London and the South East by the end of the year.

MAG bought Stansted for £1.5bn in January and could expand the airport if the commission recommends new runways in the South East.

Last month the campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion said it would seek a judicial review of the process if Mr Muirhead stayed on the commission.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “Mr Muirhead was appointed to the Airports Commission in October 2012, at which point MAG did not own Stansted Airport. Following its submission to the Airports Commission concerning options for the expansion of Stansted, questions have been raised about the appearance of a potential conflict of interest.

“Although there is no evidence whatsoever of bias towards the MAG submission concerning Stansted, we have agreed the prudent course is for him not to continue as a commissioner to avoid any perception of a potential conflict of interest.”

Mr Muirhead stepped down as chief executive of MAG in October 2010 but continued to work with the airport in an ambassadorial role until January 2013.