The Mail on Sunday: “Don’t worry, Ben, we’ll give you the Low-down”

  1. On 25 October 2020, The Mail on Sunday newspaper’s Anna Mikhailova referred to the outcome of the inquiry by the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards into Ben Rich, sole staffer to former health secretary Lord Lansley at the House of Lords (screen shot in Figure 1).
Figure 1. The Mail on Sunday (25 October 2020)
  1. It was my complaint to the Commissioner that prompted her to open the inquiry (see 23 October 2020 post).

Another Val Savage column, another plug for Tena Ladies

  1. Yet another plug for Tena Ladies by columnist Val Savage in the Daily Mirror newspaper today (24 October 2020).
  2. Ms Savage shares her thoughts on “visible G-strings”, before finishing with the inevitable plug (screen shot in Figure 1).
Figure 1. Val plugs Tena Ladies in her column on 24 October
  1. It was only two weeks ago the columnist last plugged Tena Ladies (see 10 October 2020 post). Will Ms Savage promote the brand every week?

House of Lords Commissioner for Standards upholds my complaint about the conduct of Lord Lansley’s sole staffer

  1. On 19 October 2020, the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, upheld my complaint about the conduct of Benedict (“Ben”) Rich.
  2. Mr Rich is former health secretary Lord Lansley’s sole member of staff at the House of Lords, according to the register of interests of lords members’ staff (see 29 July 2020 post).
  3. Here’s the Commissioner’s report: https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/lords-commissioner-for-standards/report-on-benedict-rich.pdf.

Yet more hidden gambling advertising by Sam Quek on Twitter

  1. Olympic hockey gold medallist and BBC sport presenter Sam Quek is plugging another gambling firm on Twitter, without disclosure of interest.
  2. On 15 October 2020, Ms Quek tweeted about her latest appearance on “The Punt”, a weekly social video series from bookie 888sport about American football (screen shot in Figure 1). 888sport is “the NFL’s official sports betting partner in the UK & Ireland”. The sports star included a tweet from the gambling company within her own.
Figure 1. Sam Quek tweet about 888sport dated 15 October 2020
  1. Yes, the 888sport tweet is obviously identifiable as a marketing communication from the gambling firm.
  2. Nevertheless Ms Quek’s tweet of 15 October 2020 mainly contains her own editorial content, where she says she “enjoyed filming this with the guys”. The sports star then tells her followers to “check out the 6 min chat here”, providing a link to the 888sport video on YouTube. Yet it’s unclear from Ms Quek’s tweet that the gambling firm published the YouTube video.
  3. Ms Quek fails to label her tweet as an ad: she doesn’t use the label “#ad”, for example.
  4. On 12 May 2020, I revealed Ms Quek was plugging gambling company The Pools (The Football Pools Limited) on Twitter, without disclosure of interest – even after my two upheld complaints to advertising regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Both The Times and Daily Mail newspapers reported my exposé (see 14 May 2020 and 15 May 2020 posts).

Eamonn Holmes plugs Heineken on social media, without disclosure of interest

  1. Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes plugged alcohol company Heineken on social media, without disclosure of interest.
  2. Mr Holmes was paid to promote Heineken at the time of his posts.
Figure 1. Heineken launches “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” podcast on 18 November 2019
  1. On 18 November 2019, the alcohol company announced on its website launch of its weekly “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” podcast (screen shot in Figure 1). Each episode the broadcaster interviews a well-known football manager in a different Heineken pub, where the pair drink the beer. The alcohol firm’s official YouTube channel hosts many videos derived from the beery interviews (screen shot in Figure 2).
Figure 2. Heineken UK YouTube channel at 25 May 2020
  1. It’s disappointing the Heineken UK YouTube channel isn’t age-restricted (at date of publication). In other words, under-18s can access the content it publishes on the video-sharing platform. Heineken could easily age-restrict its content, of course. It chooses not to.
  2. Yet alcohol is supposed to be marketed in the UK only to those aged 18 and over.
  3. The broadcaster has 1m Twitter followers (@EamonnHolmes).
  4. There, in November and December 2019, Mr Holmes promoted the podcast, without disclosure of interest. The tweets are unclear and misleading: none is clearly identifiable as an ad. Mr Holmes omitted to use the hashtag #ad.
  5. Here I show six tweets (screen shots in Figure 3-8). For the avoidance of doubt, this is a selection of Mr Holmes’ problematic Heineken tweets, not all of them.
Figure 3. Eamonn Holmes tweet about “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” dated 18 November 2019
Figure 4. Eamonn Holmes tweet about “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” dated 22 November 2019
Figure 5. Eamonn Holmes tweet about “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” dated 25 November 2019
Figure 6. Eamonn Holmes tweet about “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” dated 8 December 2019
Figure 7. Eamonn Holmes tweet about “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” dated 9 December 2019
Figure 8. Eamonn Holmes tweet about “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” dated 20 December 2019
  1. All the tweets include a photo or video prominently showing Heineken – both the brand logo and beer.
  2. His tweets, too, are accessible to under-18s (at date of publication).
  3. “A Pint with Eamonn and the Gaffers” is produced by podcast production company 11-29 Media Limited (screen shot in Figure 9). Mr Holmes is a shareholder in the firm, according to Companies House records.
Figure 9. 11-29 Media Limited website at 26 May 2020
  1. The broadcaster now calls his podcast simply “Eamonn and the Gaffers”, as his Twitter biography attests (screen shot in Figure 10).
Figure 10. Eamonn Holmes Twitter biography at 13 October 2020
  1. Mr Holmes didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Val Savage’s incontinent plugging

  1. As soon as I saw the headline in Val Savage’s latest column in the Daily Mirror newspaper today (10 October 2020), I knew what she’d say – or rather plug.
  2. The last item in her column is entitled “My essential supplies dry up” (screen shot in Figure 1). There the mum of football pundit and fellow Mirror columnist Robbie Savage plugs Tena Ladies, a range of women’s incontinence products. Tena is the manufacturer.
Figure 1. Val plugs Tena Ladies in her column on 10 October
  1. This is only the latest instance of Val promoting the brand in her Mirror column (see 29 August 2020 post). Some might call it incontinent plugging of Tena Ladies.

Can we trust the accounts of Momentum’s service company?

  1. A recent donation from Momentum’s service company to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP raises questions about the accuracy of the firm’s accounts.
  2. Styling itself as “a people-powered, vibrant movement”, campaign group Momentum “aims to transform the Labour Party, our communities and Britain in the interests of the many, not the few”. Momentum, an unincorporated association of individual members, uses two incorporated companies to organise its activities. One of these is service company Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd, a private company limited by guarantee.
  3. The register of MPs’ financial interests shows Mr Corbyn received and accepted a £50k donation from Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd on 24 September 2020. There it says: “This was previously an unsecured loan, received and accepted on 12 July 2016. It was converted to a donation on 24 September 2020.”
  4. Meanwhile, I refer to the accounts for Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd made up to 31 December 2017. These are for the period 1 July 2016 to 31 December 2017. Therefore, these accounts should show the £50k loan to Mr Corbyn.
  5. But they don’t. Debtors are £7.5k.
  6. Further, the latest accounts are made up to 31 December 2018. There debtors are £24k.
  7. Sam Tarry, the Labour MP for Ilford South, is a director of Momentum Campaign (Services) Ltd, having been appointed on 10 December 2015.
  8. I asked Mr Tarry in emails to explain why both sets of accounts fail to show the £50k loan to Mr Corbyn. The Ilford South MP didn’t respond within a reasonable time.

Deloitte’s due diligence failure: part five

  1. This is part five of a five-part investigation into professional services firm Deloitte’s due diligence failure over Innovation Agritech Group Limited (IAG).
  2. IAG – slogan: “pioneers of intelligent farming” – “is one of the leading operators and manufacturers of indoor vertical farming in the UK”, according to the firm’s Aeroponic Investment website.
  3. Elsewhere, though, IAG calls itself a “UK-based investment firm”!
  4. The opacity and inconsistency of information from IAG hardly engender trust and confidence in the company and its high-risk bonds.
  5. What’s more, IAG is an unauthorised financial services firm.
  6. Regulator the FCA warns the public: “You should only deal with financial services firms that have been authorised by us.”
  7. Worse, IAG is an unauthorised firm selling high-risk, unregulated bonds.
  8. Deloitte is self-evidently happy to act for IAG. This is a huge due diligence failure.
  9. IAG didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Deloitte’s due diligence failure: part four

  1. This is part four of a five-part investigation into professional services firm Deloitte’s due diligence failure over Innovation Agritech Group Limited (IAG).
  2. When asked for comment (see previous post), a Deloitte spokesperson said in an email on 17 September 2020: “Many thanks, but we will not be commenting further.”

Deloitte’s due diligence failure: part three

  1. This is part three of a five-part investigation into professional services firm Deloitte’s due diligence failure over Innovation Agritech Group Limited (IAG).
  2. Below is my follow-up email to Deloitte on 13 September 2020 after its comment dated 11 September 2020 (see previous post).

“Dear [Name Withheld],

  1. Thank you for the response.
  2. As you know, that’s the same comment Deloitte issued confirming it presented the document filed at Companies House by Innovation Agritech Group Limited (IAG) on 31 July 2020.
  3. My request for comment dated 8 September 2020 was about Deloitte’s due diligence failure.
  4. As I’m asking about Deloitte’s actions, the issue of protecting client confidentiality is not relevant. This is about Deloitte.
  5. Even if the duty of confidence is relevant, which I don’t accept, you can ask your client IAG for consent to share information with me.
  6. I shall continue to await comment from Deloitte about its due diligence failure, therefore.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Alex May”