AN MP has resigned a leading role on a parliamentary committee funded by fracking firms after campaigners battling plans for the controversial gas production method in his constituency accused him of having a conflict of interest.

Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said he had stepped down with immediate effect as vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Unconventional Oil and Gas after learning the administrative function of the group was bankrolled by firms such as INEOS, Cuadrilla and iGas, all of whom have plans to frack in North Yorkshire.

Anti-fracking group Frack Free Ryedale said other major contributors to the committee include oil and gas companies Total, Centrica, Calor Gas, Shell International and UKOOG, the fracking industry's trade body.

The committee brings together politicians and policymakers with business groups, academics, non-government organisations and consumer groups to debate potential for developing unconventional oil and gas reserves in the UK.

Campaigners said Mr Hollinrake's role on the government advisory body since being elected to Parliament last May had done nothing to restore his "shattered credibility".

The group's spokesman, Chris Redston, said: "Mr Hollinrake is attempting to position himself with the community in Ryedale as an honest broker with the fracking industry, while at the same time is vice-chair of an industry-funded lobby group set up within the government to promote fracking.

"Not only do the vast majority of the committee's members have a vested financial interest in promoting fracking in the UK, but we now know this group is almost entirely funded by the shale gas industry and its associates."

Mr Hollinrake said he had resigned as an officer of the committee to ensure his impartiality was not called into question and was setting up a new parliamentary group for shale gas regulation and planning that would be independently-funded.

He said he had joined the committee to increase the communication opportunities with the industry and regulators.

The Conservative MP said: "I have been careful to be entirely transparent about my role in the debate about fracking in my constituency.

"I understand why Frack Free Ryedale has made its comments, but I stand by my commitment to be open-minded and will not be distracted from my duty to represent my constituents, to get the best outcome for the future and to promote and protect our precious countryside.

"I have received and responded to many letters from Frack Free Ryedale to ensure they are kept in the loop at every stage."