Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, has condemned OVO CEO, Stephen Fitzpatrick, over his lack of transparency since announcing plans to close their Perth base, with an expected loss of 700 jobs.
This comes after Mr Fitzpatrick appeared before the House of Commons Business Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee on Tuesday. There, he failed to answer questions from MPs about why OVO accounts showed that, in 2020, the company was paid £17 million in furlough money and, in the same year, payments and loans worth more than £40 million were made from OVO to other Fitzpatrick companies; only for OVO to announce plans to pursue 2,000 staff redundancies less than two years later.
Mr Fitzpatrick said he did not recognise the £40 million worth of payments and loans, but research from Unite shows that there is clear evidence that these loans and payments were made.
Pete Wishart said:
“After his unsatisfactory appearance at the BEIS Select Committee, Stephen Fitzpatrick must now come to Perth and meet local politicians to explain his decision to close the Perth OVO operation with the loss of 700 jobs.
“Since this announcement, Mr Fitzpatrick has gone into hiding. He failed to turn up the meeting with Perthshire politicians last month, and has repeatedly avoided communication with unions and the thousands of staff who he has betrayed with a series of false promises.
“His attendance at the BEIS Select Committee meeting was therefore welcome, but it is simply not good enough for him to appear then fail to answer serious questions about potential funnelling of OVO’s finances.
“We need to hear from him directly over his contradictory evidence concerning some £40 million of payments and loans made to other companies owned by Mr Fitzpatrick.
“Critically, we need to uncover whether money was paid to other companies in Mr Fitzpatrick’s business portfolio, which could have been used to save jobs in Perth.
“We are due a further soon with OVO and Mr Fitzpatrick must be present. I also understand that colleagues on the BEIS Select Committee intend to follow up Mr Fitzpatrick’s appearance with a series of further questions.”