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Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson blamed for slow electric car sales | UK News

Rowan Atkinson has been blamed for “damaging” the reputation of electric vehicles (EVs) and contributing to slow sales.

The Mr Bean actor was name-checked in the House of Lords on Tuesday during its environment and climate change committee meeting.

Thinktank Green Alliance gave its views on the main obstacles the government faces in its bid to phase out petrol and diesel cars before 2035, and said a comment piece by the Johnny English star published in June 2023 was damaging to the cause.

The pressure group told peers in a letter that was shared: “One of the most damaging articles was a comment piece written by Rowan Atkinson in The Guardian which has been roundly debunked.

“Unfortunately, fact checks never reach the same breadth of audience as the original false claim, emphasising the need to ensure high editorial standards around the net zero transition.”

Atkinson pictured on top of Mr Bean's famous yellow Mini Cooper. Pic: AP
Atkinson pictured on top of Mr Bean’s famous yellow Mini Cooper. Pic: AP

The 69-year-old actor’s piece was headlined: “I love electric vehicles – and was an early adopter. But increasingly I feel duped.”

Atkinson wrote that EVs were “a bit soulless” and criticised the use of their lithium-ion batteries.

He suggested solutions like drivers keeping the same car for longer periods of time and increased use of synthetic fuel would negate the need for EVs, saying: “Increasingly, I’m feeling that our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end, and that’s no bad thing.”

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The actor, who described himself as a “car person” having got a degree in electrical and electronic engineering, said he advised friends to “hold fire for now” on EVs unless they have an old diesel vehicle.

The Guardian published a response the following week from Simon Evans, deputy editor and senior policy editor of climate news site Carbon Brief, which looked to debunk Atkinson’s claims.

Mr Evans wrote: “Atkinson’s biggest mistake is his failure to recognise that electric vehicles already offer significant global environmental benefits, compared with combustion-engine cars.”

Atkinson’s views were used to make a wider point about “misleading” reports stunting EV sales.

Other challenges highlighted during the committee meeting included insufficient numbers of charging points, higher prices on EVs and “a lack of clear and consistent messaging from the government”.

COVID-19: Government ‘too slow’ to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud | Politics News

The government is still being “too slow” to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud and error over the pandemic, MPs have said.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee (PAC) also said Whitehall needs a “step change” in its approach to risk in order to prevent a similar “panic response” in the future.

In a wide-ranging report, the group laid bare a number of “repeated problems”.

Total fraud and error across COVID employment schemes delivered by HMRC was an estimated £4.5bn, of which the department expects to recoup just £1.1bn, PAC said.

“Some increase in fraud and error was an inevitable short-term consequence of providing support quickly, but government is being too slow to recover taxpayer pounds lost,” the report said.

“Whitehall departments have an opportunity to do better by the taxpayer by prioritising work to tackle current levels of fraud and error; improving how they measure fraud and error so we can be clearer about the extent of the problem and measures to tackle it; and planning and implementing better fraud and error safeguards.”

And the committee also found the Department of Health and Social Care wasted an “extraordinary” £14.9bn on PPE and related COVID expenditure across the last two years.

“No-one could predict the COVID-19 pandemic, but we could have been better prepared,” the report added.

More on PPE:
COVID-19: PPE storage still costs taxpayers £580,000 a day, new figures reveal

“The scale of the losses incurred in a panic response on issues such as PPE procurement are documented in this report. We need to learn the lesson that there is always unpredictability.”

A Government spokesperson said: “In the last two years, we have recovered more than £3.1bn of fraud losses, including within COVID-19 schemes, and as the report acknowledges, we have already made significant progress by establishing the Public Sector Fraud Authority.

“However, we are not complacent, which is why we are expanding the Government’s Counter-Fraud Profession, developing new technologies and boosting skills and training to further protect the public purse.”

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‘A scandal of a huge proportion’ (12 Dec, 2022)

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “This is a damning indictment of eye-watering Tory waste, with Rishi Sunak writing off billions in taxpayers’ money lost to COVID fraud after ignoring basic checks and warnings.”