A FORMER MP has taken over as the boss of a petrochemical industry organisation.

Iain Wright is the new chief executive of the North-East Process Industry Cluster (Nepic).

Mr Wright, who served as the Labour MP for Hartlepool for more than a decade, replaces the retiring Dr Stan Higgins.

His time in politics included a stint as chairman of the Business Select Committee, wherein he led a campaign to improve working conditions at Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct and oversaw an investigation into Sir Philip Green and the sale of BHS.

However, earlier this year Mr Wright, who worked at development agency One North- East prior to being elected as Hartlepool MP, announced he would be standing down to pursue other interests.

The 45-year-old, who is expected to officially start later this month, says he will focus on representing member firms and championing the region’s process industries, while identifying areas for fresh growth.

He also paid tribute to Dr Higgins, who previously told The Northern Echo it was “the right time to leave”.

He said: “Under Stan’s excellent leadership, Nepic is a powerful organisation, working with firms to create jobs and prosperity for our region.

“Stan will be a tough act to follow, but I am determined to work hard with companies to champion this vital sector.

“Future economic success for the North-East will be based upon science, innovation, skills and a competitive manufacturing base.

“With great co-ordination, we can unlock the enormous potential of this sector in our region, ensuring the North- East can be seen across the world as the place to invest in chemicals, science and pharmaceuticals.”

Mr Wright’s appointment comes after a five-month search, led by Nepic’s board, and he will work alongside Dr Higgins during the summer to conduct a handover of responsibilities.

Dr Higgins added: “It’s reassuring that such an outstanding candidate has taken over this important leadership role.

“Iain’s national business and industry experience will help Nepic’s members and the sector into the future.”

Dr Higgins was in post for in excess of a decade.

Nepic says it has helped secure investments worth more than £4bn and 5,000 jobs in the region.