Lord Soley accused of 'taking Heathrow shilling'

Former local MP to head airport expansion lobby group

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There has been an angry reaction to the announcement that Lord Soley, the former MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush is to join Future Heathrow a lobby group funded by the major airlines.

John Stewart of HACAN, a campaign group that has lobbied against the Fifth Terminal and Third Runway at Heathrow accused Lord Soley of taking the airline industry's shilling saying, "We are dismayed that Lord Soley has taken this job. In particular, his former constituents feel let down. He is now lobbying for expansion of Heathrow which will mean more planes, more noise and more pollution for the people of West London."

Lord Soley, a former chairman of the Labour party who has been recently ennobled, will become a director of the group which is to launch on May 23rd. He is reported to be getting a salary of £28,000 per annum for a part time position. Financial backing has come from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and British Midland. The CBI and several trade unions will be represented on the group.

Gary Malcolm, the Liberal democrat candidate in the contest for Lord Soley's former constituency said, "As someone who fights daily to battle with people's negative views on politicians, it is a downright a disgrace that someone can change their mind once given a Lordship. If elected making these sorts of changes of mind, I think I would deserve to be hounded out of office or my lordship stripped."

Tom Fisher, spokesperson for Ealing Green Party, said "Clive Soley has betrayed the people of Ealing and the whole of West London. He is prepared to poison the air in West London and to wreck any serious attempts by the UK to address climate change."

Lord Soley, who lives in Acton under the likely flight path for the third runway has always been broadly supportive of the expansion of Heathrow although he has opposed the third runway in the past. He has said that having grown up in the East End and seen the economic decline that came with the loss of pre-eminence of London's docks he fears ed West London could suffer a similar fate if Heathrow does not continue to grow and a third runway is built.

A White Paper on airport development has left the door open to a third runway but set environmental targets that have to be reached before it can be built.

May 27, 2005