Daily Mirror blurs the separation between editorial and advertising

  1. On 22 May 2017, the Daily Mirror newspaper published a health-related ad featuring Dr Miriam Stoppard opposite her column. The ad risks undermining both her and the newspaper’s editorial integrity.
  2. That day Dr Stoppard’s column was on p.30 (Daily Mirror 22 May 2017 p.30), and the ad on the other page of the double spread, p.31 (Daily Mirror 22 May 2017 p.31).
  3. There’s a clear conflict of interest between her role as Daily Mirror health columnist and her endorsement in ads of health-related products and services.
  4. Dr Stoppard is also continuously promoting the advertiser on Twitter (screen shot in Figure 1), without disclosing she’s appearing in its press ads and on its website (screen shot in Figure 2), and thus presumably is paid by the company. Her Twitter biography proclaims “Daily Mirror health expert” (screen shot in Figure 3).

    Figure 1. Dr Miriam Stoppard on Twitter promoting a company, without disclosing she fronts its press ads at 23 May 2017

    Figure 2. Dr Miriam Stoppard on company website at 23 May 2017

    Figure 3. Dr Miriam Stoppard’s Twitter biography at 23 May 2017

  5. What’s worse, the Daily Mirror published Dr Stoppard’s ad – and alongside her column. As I say, the ad risks undermining both her and the newspaper’s editorial integrity.
  6. Dr Stoppard joins the club of media doctors who undermine their credibility by appearing in health-related ads – doctors such as Dr Hilary Jones (see 3 April 2017 & 10 April 2017 posts) and Dr Chris Steele (see 18 April 2017 post).
  7. Neither Lloyd Embley, Daily Mirror editor-in-chief, nor Dr Stoppard responded to my complaint, which I sent twice to both.

The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust: an opaque, unresponsive charity with excessive – and increasing – management costs

  1. I first came across The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust (PAMT; registered charity number: 1159831) when I read an article by chair of trustees, Sir Hugh Orde, in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on 17 May 2017. The charity is raising funds to create a new UK Police Memorial (UKPM) at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. A laudable aim, but there are problems: PAMT is an opaque, unresponsive charity with excessive – and increasing – management costs.
  2. Sir Hugh wants to raise “at least £4m” to design, build and maintain the new UKPM: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/16/join-campaign-honour-memories-police-officers-have-died-line/. Last month’s Telegraph article marked launch of a new phase of fundraising, so it’s unfortunate that the public contact for the charity has been obstructive and unresponsive from the outset. I initially emailed Joan Cagney on 18 May 2017 because I wanted to read the latest trustees’ annual report (TAR) and accounts. On 11 May 2017, the Charity Commission received the charity accounts made up to 31 December 2016, according to its online public register of charities. Yet at 18 May 2017 the accounts weren’t – and at date of publication still aren’t – actually available via the register. On 23 May 2017, Ms Cagney said in her reply (email): “I am happy to send our annual accounts, however can you tell me why you need them please?” Strange, I thought, why not just send them anyway? Nevertheless I told her in an email the next day I was interested in PAMT after Sir Hugh’s article. Yet two weeks since first requesting the latest accounts, that is at 1 June 2017, I still hadn’t received them.
  3. Meanwhile, I noticed that the charity recently filed the accounts at Companies House – on 19 May 2017 (registered company number: 08961292). Thus I obtained them there, despite the ongoing unavailability on the online public register of charities. At date of publication I still haven’t received the accounts from Ms Cagney despite a third email, on 1 June 2017. There I also said it was revealing, too, that she hadn’t told me about the recent submission at Companies House, either. No response.
  4. It appears that PAMT wants to avoid scrutiny. Examining both sets of accounts to date, I can understand why.
  5. The management of the charity is opaque. Both TARs contain the sentence: “The trustees are supported in day-to-day operational matters and project management by a small management team.” This is too vague, and says nothing about the role of Ms Cagney’s company, Morgen Thomas Ltd (registered company number: 07603228). The company is hidden.
  6. Non-disclosure of the company has a misleading consequence: PAMT has no employees, according to the Charity Commission public register of charities (screen shot in Figure 1).

    Figure 1. The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust on the Charity Commission public register of charities at 27 May 2017: no employees

  7. At date of publication Morgen Thomas Ltd isn’t mentioned on the PAMT website, either. I refer to both “The Trust” and contact pages.
  8. It’s a different story on the Morgen Thomas Ltd website, though, where the company trumpets its role at client PAMT (screen shot in Figure 2).

    Figure 2. “Client” The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust on the Morgen Thomas Ltd website at 19 May 2017

  9. Both accounts report expenditure on “management,” which again is too vague. What exactly does this mean?
  10. Fundraising itself isn’t a charitable activity – but nor is “management.” Yet both are erroneously reported under “charitable activities.” Why?
  11. The charity fails to disclose the pay details of the “small management team.” Yet charities must report the pay details of their staff.
  12. PAMT has excessive – and increasing – management costs. Why? That is, in 2015, 38.8% (£241.8k) of the £623.8k income was spent on “management.” While in 2016, the percentage had increased – 43.6% (£249.4k) of the £572.3k income went on “management.”
  13. I put the above points to Ms Cagney in my third email, on 1 June 2017. At date of publication PAMT hasn’t responded to my request for comment.
  14. Sir Hugh is former president of the Association of 
Chief Police Officers (ACPO), predecessor organisation to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC). Chief constable Sara Thornton, who in April 2015 became the first chair of NPCC and continues in that role, is also a trustee of PAMT. Two criticisms of ACPO were its lack of transparency, and unaccountability: as a private company it was immune to Freedom of Information requests, for example (registered company number: 03344583). As a charity PAMT is similarly exempt from Freedom of Information requests. It’s also non-transparent, as I’ve shown. What’s worse, the charity has excessive – and increasing – management costs.
  15. There’s another reason why PAMT needs to be more open, transparent and accountable: it’s a recipient of government largesse. “George Osborne, while chancellor, generously committed £1m from the LIBOR funds,” writes Sir Hugh in the Telegraph. That’s handy. Let’s hope PAMT will have more to show for the LIBOR funds than some of the military charities that Mr Osborne gifted large sums to this way. Military charities like Veterans Council, for example (see 17 October 2016 and 23 December 2016 posts).

ASA censures “offensive” GambleAware ad

  1. Following the cover-up at GambleAware, the leading gambling charity (see last post): the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today (7 June 2017) ruled against the charity for its “offensive” cinema ad.
  2. The ad must not appear again in its current form,” said the advertising regulator. GambleAware must, the ASA added, “avoid using similarly offensive and distressing material in their future advertising.”
  3. The ASA ruling: https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/responsible-gambling-trust-a17-381656.html.

Cover-up undermines credibility of GambleAware

  1. Here I describe a cover-up by GambleAware, the leading gambling charity, that undermines its credibility.
  2. GambleAware, formerly called the Responsible Gambling Trust (registered charity number: 1093910), is a national charity “committed to minimising gambling-related harm.” It does this by funding research, education and treatment services. Funded itself by donations from the gambling industry, the self-styled independent charity works closely with the industry – too closely for critics. I first wrote about GambleAware on 27 February 2017, identifying four main problems with the charity. Here’s another: it recently instituted a cover-up.
  3. On 28 March 2017, GambleAware published a news item on its website, entitled “Evaluation of MOSES” (screen shot in Figure 1). MOSES is the Multi Operator Self Exclusion Scheme for betting shops, a national scheme run by Multi Operator Self Exclusion Scheme Ltd (registered company number: 10269436). The company in turn is a wholly-owned but self-styled stand-alone subsidiary of the Senet Group (registered company number: 09310491).

    Figure 1. GambleAware news page at 30 March 2017

  4. Anyone wanting to control his or her high-street gambling can, with a single phone call to MOSES, register an initial wish to self-exclude from a self-selected group of betting shops, regardless of operator (self-exclusion.co.uk). A photo is required, which is shared with the relevant operators “to help staff recognise someone who has self-excluded and intervene if he or she breaches that undertaking.”
  5. The Senet Group is “an independent body set up to promote responsible gambling standards and ensure that the marketing of gambling is socially responsible,” says its website. Membership is open to “any gambling operator, and any associated organisation.” On 28 March 2017, the Senet Group, too, announced the MOSES evaluation on its website (screen shot in Figure 2). Its news item linked to the press release on the GambleAware website.

    Figure 2. Senet Group news page at 30 March 2017

  6. The GambleAware press release states that the charity had commissioned the evaluation of MOSES. The evaluation was carried out by company Chrysalis Research UK Limited (registered company number: 07375791). I didn’t understand why the original version of the Chrysalis Research report the charity published didn’t refer to GambleAware at all, astonishingly.
  7. On 29 March 2017, I therefore emailed the report’s author, Louise Duffy, seeking an explanation for the omission of GambleAware in her report. She’s a director of the research company. Having heard nothing, I sent a reminder a week later. This time Ms Duffy replied, on 6 April 2017, saying only: “Apologies for the delay. The published report does now have the acknowledgement in it and is attached here for your information.”
  8. The next day I pointed out in an email that she hadn’t explained, though, why the original version of the report didn’t refer to GambleAware at all. On 10 April 2017, Ms Duffy wrote: “It was an oversight on our part and we should have included that it was commissioned by GambleAware, hence the amendment made.”
  9. I wanted to be clear: did GambleAware really commission the evaluation, as stated in the accompanying press release? A related question is: what exactly is the relationship between the charity and the Senet Group anyway? I shall explain why the relationship is so important in a later post.
  10. The original version of the report was dated 23 March 2017 on the front cover. The file creation date in the file metadata as well is 23 March 2017 (screen shot in Figure 3). Here’s the original version, downloaded from the GambleAware website on 29 March 2017: jn175-moses-evaluation-final-report-230317.

    Figure 3. Original version of report: PDF document properties

  11. The revised version, though, remains dated 23 March 2017 on the front cover, which is misleading and dishonest, or could be perceived as such. The file creation date in the file metadata, meanwhile, is now later – 30 March 2017 (screen shot in Figure 4). Here’s the revised version, downloaded from the GambleAware website on 7 April 2017: jn175-moses-evaluation-report-final-report-230317.

    Figure 4. Revised version of report: PDF document properties

  12. At date of publication the report linked to on the charity website is the revised version I downloaded on 7 April 2017.
  13. There’s no record in the revised version that it’s actually been revised, which again is misleading and dishonest, or could be perceived as such. Similarly, it’s misleading and dishonest, or could be perceived as such, that the revised version fails to explain the reason for the changes.
  14. What’s worse, GambleAware simply swapped the files in the news item dated 28 March 2017 – again misleading and dishonest, or could be perceived as such. Thus the charity hid the change of files (screen shot in Figure 5).

    Figure 5. GambleAware news page at 7 April 2017

  15. I asked Iain Corby at GambleAware in an email why the charity had failed to document on its website the fact that it’d swapped the files – and when. Also, the reason for doing so. Accuracy and transparency, I added, are essential for public trust and confidence in GambleAware and its work. Mr Corby, now deputy chief exec, simply said in his response: the “researcher corrected a minor error.” He said nothing about the charity hiding the change of files. Mr Corby also told me he wasn’t prepared to answer any further queries from me. (I’d explicitly acknowledged him in my 27 February 2017 post for being responsive and willing to engage in discussion. I also phoned then to thank him verbally.)
  16. ADDENDUM: On the subject of self-exclusion, a GambleAware trustee has seemingly failed to declare a relevant interest on the online trustee register of interests. I refer to Clive Hawkswood (screen shot in Figure 6), who is sole director of company The National Online Self Exclusion Scheme Limited (NOSES; registered company number: 10504973), too, according to Companies House records. The company is creating and will operate NOSES, an equivalent self-exclusion scheme for online gambling.

    Figure 6. Trustee Clive Hawkswood’s declared interests at 30 March 2017

  17. On this point Mr Corby said in his email: “Clive Hawkswood’s interest with the RGA [Remote Gambling Association], which is developing NOSES, is already registered.” True, but Mr Hawkswood is sole director of The National Online Self Exclusion Scheme Limited: his role at the company should surely be declared for full disclosure.

Company donation to Mark Spencer MP requires explanation

  1. On 13 April 2017, Mark Spencer, Conservative MP for Sherwood and an Assistant Government Whip, declared a cash donation of £2.15k on the register of MPs’ financial interests. It came from SJ Ankh Ltd, a local company; but the registered company number that Mr Spencer stated fails to match that on the Companies House register. The mismatch between company name and number requires explanation. Further, while £2.15k may not be a huge amount, here I show that Mr Spencer’s declaration on the register means we’re talking telephone numbers.
  2. Farmer Mr Spencer, who was first elected MP for Sherwood in May 2010, listed 9654867 as company number. Yet the registered company number of SJ Ankh Ltd is 10525122, according to Companies House records. While 9654867 is the company number of Bedfordshire Land Promotions Ltd.
  3. There’s something else about number 9654867, though. It’s the phone number for Sherwood Conservative Association (without prefix 0115, area code for Nottingham).
  4. Samuel (“Sam”) Ancliff is sole director of SJ Ankh Ltd, which is a new company. He’s “deputy chairman (membership)” of Ashfield and Mansfield Conservatives, too, says his Twitter biography (screen shot in Figure 1). On 4 May 2017, Mr Ancliff stood unsuccessfully in the local elections, as Conservative candidate for county councillor in Kirkby North, Nottinghamshire County Council. He came second, behind Labour’s John Knight.

    Figure 1. Sam Ancliff on Twitter at 9 May 2017

  5. Mr Spencer, who is Conservative candidate for Sherwood in the current general election, didn’t respond to requests for comment (emails). Neither did Sherwood Conservatives. Where’s the “strong and stable leadership”?
  6. Mr Ancliff, however, said in an email: “Besides that it is a [sic] clearly a simple admin error on someone’s part, I have nothing further to contribute to your blog.” Well, if so, who exactly made “a simple admin error,” and where?

Company gets its own name wrong in ad – and ASA says it’s ok

  1. On 11 April 2017, I saw an unclear and misleading ad for the “Bio-Mag Therapy Bracelet” in the Daily Mirror newspaper, p.35. Here’s a scanned copy of the ad: Daily Mirror 11 April 2017 p.35. The advertiser is UK Direct Shop Ltd, which specifies a UK address.
  2. The ad is unclear and misleading because there’s no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register.
  3. When I rang the phone number in the ad, no one could explain why UK Direct Shop Ltd wasn’t on the Companies House register, either. Further, everyone I spoke to referred to “UK Direct Shop” only, without the “Ltd” (Limited) suffix.
  4. The ad refers to a website, where the company is identified as UK Direct Shop Services Ltd (screen shot in Figure 1). This company is on the Companies House register – registered company number: 09658267.

    Figure 1. UK Direct Shop homepage at 12 April 2017

  5. I complained about the ad to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In an email the advertising regulator dismissed my complaint: “Under the advertising codes, there is no requirement of an advertiser to state their full company name in their own advertising – they only need to ensure that they don’t mislead consumers by omitting their identity. As both you and I have been able to easily locate them on Companies House from the details in the ad [the website], we don’t propose further action on this occasion.”
  6. I told the ASA I was baffled by its reasoning. An inaccurate company name is misleading, too, by definition.
  7. I had thought a consumer could reasonably expect a company to get its own name right in an ad. It seems not.

BuzzFeed re-examines Give Us Time after my investigation

  1. On 29 April 2017, James Ball at BuzzFeed re-examined Give Us Time, a military charity founded in 2012 by Dr Liam Fox MP. This was after my recent investigation (see 20 April 2017 post).
  2. Special Correspondent Ball named and credited me. His report: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jamesball/liam-foxs-military-charity-has-still-helped-just-a-fraction.