KEVIN Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, has resigned a leading role on a parliamentary committee funded by fracking firms after campaigners accused him of having a conflict of interest.

In an email to the chair of the group, Mr Hollinrake said that concerns had been expressed that his involvement in the group was "inappropriate, due to the amount of sponsorship it receives from the oil and gas industry."

He added that although "this would never influence any of us to take a particular view", he would nevertheless resign as an officer "to make sure that my impartiality is not called into question."

Mr Hollinrake had been vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Unconventional Oil and Gas. The administrative function of the group is 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.

Chris Redston, spokesman for Frack-Free Ryedale, 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 added: "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."