- Former Tory MP Tim Yeo is a “senior consultant” at Turquoise, a London-based merchant bank specialising in “energy, environment and efficiency”.
- He was South Suffolk MP from 1983 to 2015. His parliamentary career included a stint as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, according to his biography on the Turquoise website (screen shot in Figure 1). That’s a government post.
- Yet the parliament website shows Mr Yeo was in fact, twice, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: https://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/mr-tim-yeo/136. And that’s an opposition post.
- Government and opposition are, er, obviously different.
- At date of publication Mr Yeo hasn’t responded to a request for comment via email, nor has Turquoise. His biography on the merchant bank’s website is unchanged.
- On 15 August 2017, UK 2020 Limited, the thinktank founded and chaired by former cabinet minister Owen Paterson, filed its second set of accounts at Companies House (registered company number: 09245454). Conservative MP Mr Paterson, who’s now sole director, signed off the accounts on 8 June 2017. Made up to 31 March 2017, note 4 there, “Future activities,” states: “The company was dormant from 1 April 2017.”
- Two weeks after filing the accounts, meanwhile, the apparently dormant thinktank published its latest report, “Timebomb: How the university cartel is failing students.” Its findings were first reported on 3 September 2017, in The Sunday Times newspaper and on the BBC News website. Two days later, UK 2020 formally launched the report in the House of Commons Thames Pavilion, according to the thinktank’s Twitter feed (@_uk2020).
- The 157-page report was produced “over recent months,” says lead author Richard Tice in his preface. Is UK 2020 the first dormant thinktank to prepare and publish a weighty report?
- At date of publication neither Mr Paterson at parliament nor UK 2020 itself responded to requests for comment.
- The company that owns English football club Hull City Tigers, Allamhouse Limited, is as well known for its record of political donations, mostly to Labour. The firm itself is owned by the Allam family. Dr Assem Allam is chairman of Hull City; his son Ehab Allam vice-chairman. There‘s an unexplained discrepancy of almost £32k between two independent public sources for political donations made by Allamhouse Limited for the five years 2012-2016. Further, the identified recipients of the donations differ between the two independent public sources. The football club apparently remains for sale, meanwhile, after relegation from the Premier League last season, 2016-17.
- The firm’s last accounts were made up to 31 December 2016, Companies House records show (registered company number: 07042898). And at that year-end Allamhouse Limited had made seven political donations, all cash and total value £750.0k, according to the Electoral Commission online database. Also, subsidiary Allam Marine Limited (registered company number: 02708090) made two political donations in 2012, both cash and total value £106.9k. Thus the overall sum at the Electoral Commission is £856.9k.
- Political donations above £2k must be disclosed by a company in the directors’ report within the annual report. Here the accounting reference date is 31 December, according to Companies House records. For each year 2012-2016 except 2015, political donations are disclosed in the annual report of Allamhouse Limited. But here the total value is £825.0k – almost £32k (i.e. £31.9k) less than the Electoral Commission total, £856.9k (Table 1). (No political donations are disclosed in the 2011 directors’ report of Allamhouse Limited. And none are listed during 2011 in the Electoral Commission online database, either)
|Year||Annual report||Electoral Commission|
- Six issues about the Hull City owners‘ political donations arise from comparison of disclosures in the directors’ reports and Electoral Commission records.
- FIRST ISSUE: The 2012 directors’ report of Allamhouse Limited discloses a cash donation to Labour of £100k. Electoral Commission records show that in 2012 the party actually received that sum from subsidiary Allam Marine Limited. Yet later that year, Allam Marine Limited also gave Labour £6.9k, according to the Electoral Commission online database. Why did the 2012 directors’ report of Allamhouse Limited fail to disclose the second cash donation to Labour? (No political donations are disclosed in the 2012 directors’ report of Allam Marine Limited.)
- SECOND ISSUE: The 2013 directors’ report shows two cash donations: £110k to Labour and £15k to the Conservative Middle Eastern Council (CMEC). Neither – nor any donation – is shown during 2013 in the Electoral Commission online database. Why?
- THIRD ISSUE: The 2014 directors’ report discloses cash donations to Labour of total value £500k. The number of cash donations isn’t specified. During 2014 in the Electoral Commission online database there’s only a single donation to Labour – of £110k. Perhaps this donation is that disclosed in the 2013 directors’ report? (see SECOND ISSUE) Similarly, in 2014 CMEC accepted a cash donation of £15k from the company, the Electoral Commission online database shows. Again, perhaps this donation is that disclosed in the 2013 directors’ report?
- FOURTH ISSUE: The 2015 directors’ report discloses no political donations. Nevertheless in 2015 Labour accepted two cash donations from the firm: £200k and £300k, according to the Electoral Commission online database. Perhaps these donations are those disclosed in the 2014 directors’ report, total value £500k? (see THIRD ISSUE)
- FIFTH ISSUE: The 2015 directors’ report discloses no political donations. Yet during 2015 in the Electoral Commission online database CMEC accepted a cash donation of £15k from the company. Why the non-disclosure in the directors’ report?
- SIXTH ISSUE: The 2015 directors’ report discloses no political donations. But during 2015 in the Electoral Commission online database the Conservatives (Haltemprice and Howden) accepted a cash donation of £10k from the company. Haltemprice and Howden is the constituency of David Davis MP, Brexit Secretary. It‘s also where Dr Allam lives. Why the non-disclosure in the directors’ report?
- For 2016, however, there’s no discrepancy in amount between the two independent public sources: both say £100k. This political donation is vaguely described as “to the Labour Party Leadership campaign” in the 2016 directors’ report. While Owen Smith MP, who challenged Jeremy Corbyn MP as Labour leader in the summer of 2016, is shown as recipient at the Electoral Commission.
- Hull City press officer, Luke Cash, hasn’t responded to requests for comment. I‘ve emailed him at the football club three times, beginning in June 2017.
- ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I’m grateful to James Douglas at the Electoral Commission for advice on its data.