MP Tom denies Nestle job claim

DEPARTING High Peak MP Tom Levitt has refuted claims in the satirical magazine Private Eye that he has been offered a job by controversial food giant Nestle.

This week, it alleges the politician will work as a paid adviser for the multi-national company, which owns Buxton Water.

Fifty-five-year-old Mr Levitt is standing down at the next election, expected to be held on May 6.

Mr Levitt has come under fire in the past for his links with Nestle, which some health campaigners believe has tried to encourage mothers in the Third World to use its baby formula milk instead of breast feeding.

Mr Levitt said: "I have no firm plans yet ... I have some irons in the fire, but the post of 'paid adviser to Nestle' is news to me."

Nestle's Head of Corporate Communications Sally Pain said: "As a large employer, we look to build close relationships with members of parliament local to our sites.

"As such, Mr Levitt has always been kept up-to-date with developments in our business. However currently there are no plans for him to work with the company in the future."

Since 2005, Mr Levitt has received three donations from Nestle – all properly recorded in the Register Of Members' Financial Interests.

He accepted hospitality and tickets for the Ashes Test Match in July 2009 and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in June 2005.

He also went on a fact-finding mission looking at corporate social responsibility in South Africa in February 2008. Nestle funded flights, accommodation and other costs during the seven day trip.

Mr Levitt said: "It is right to have close relations with important local companies."

• According to groups including Baby Milk Action (BMA), Nestle's marketing of milk formula over breastfeeding has led to disease and death among infants in developing countries. Milk formula has to be mixed with water, often contaminated in poor countries.

BMA's Campaigns and Networking Coordinator said: "We shouldn't forget the mothers who've been misled and not breastfed as a result of the company's propaganda."

But Mr Levitt said: "Nestle is amongst the most ethical of traders in this field."