English Heritage is facing scrutiny from Britain’s new coalition government over claims of a conflict of interest which allegedly saw it “abuse” its planning powers in favour of a commercial partner. English Heritage are currently selling self branded fireplaces, It is argued that its organisational structure is designed to protect against conflicts of interest between its commercial activities and its advisory role.
Liberal Democrat MP and secretary for Scotland, Michael Moore, is investigating a complaint that the quango discriminated against specialist fireplace manufacturer Thistle & Rose – a firm based in his constituency – in favour of a rival firm licensed to sell a range of “English Heritage”-branded fireplaces.
In a letter before claim sent to English Heritage’s lawyers, Thistle & Rose’s solicitor warned that it was seeking damages as a result of its losses. “EH enjoys a dominant position by playing a regulatory role as the body selected by the UK government to secure the preservation of historic buildings in England,” the letter stated. “Simultaneously, EH has the ability to compete for commercial gain for the sale of traditional fireplaces for such listed buildings. It is our client’s position that, from 2008 onwards, EH abused that dominant position by seeking to exclude the commercial rivals of its chosen commercial partner, Acquisitions.”