Conflicts of interest
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) representatives must disclose any personal or business interests which may conflict with their role as a member of an AHRC decision-making body. The AHRC keeps registers of interests for each decision-making body, which is regularly updated to record the business and personal interests of members. The register of interests is available to the public. The Register ensures that the AHRC's members are open about their interests. Virtually all members will have personal or business interests which might be seen to conflict with their responsibilities as members (for instance, their primary employment, or the employment of family members) - these must be declared on appointment and updated as and when changes occur.
Conduct of business
AHRC representatives must also declare if they (or a close member of family, or a person living in the same household) have an interest, pecuniary or other, in a matter being considered and should disclose in writing in advance of a meeting or as soon as practicable at the start of a meeting any interest which members of the public might reasonably think could influence their judgement or that suggests a sense of bias. If there is any doubt about potentially conflicting interests AHRC representatives are advised to seek the advice of the Chair of the meeting.
The Cabinet Office Code states that Common Law requires members of public bodies not to participate in the discussion or determination of matters in which they have a direct pecuniary interest and should normally withdraw from the meeting room, even if it is held in public. Similarly, an AHRC representative should normally withdraw from any discussion in which they have declared an interest, pecuniary or otherwise, where there is a risk of perceived bias. Institutional conflicts of interest are common at peer review panel meetings - full procedural details can be found in the PRC Handbook.