UK Direct Shop Ltd can’t name the celebrities who supposedly use its bracelet

  1. Today (25 April 2018) the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) listed UK Direct Shop Ltd on its website as one of 43 “informally resolved” cases this week. This was after my complaint to the advertising regulator about the company’s ad that appeared in the Daily Mail newspaper on 21 February 2018.
  2. The ad was for the “Bio-Mag Therapy Bracelet”. (Daily Mail 21 Feb 2018) I first wrote about UK Direct Shop Ltd and its bracelet on 9 May 2017, when I pointed out that there was no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register. There still isn’t.
  3. As you can see, the ad proclaims: “As used by celebrities!” It also states: “Even well-known celebrities are wearing them.”
  4. I asked UK Direct Shop in an email to tell me which celebrities use its bracelet. In its reply the advertiser didn’t name any celebrities. UK Direct Shop wrote: “Unfortunately I am unable to disclose the names of any celebrities that use the Bio Mag Therapy Bracelet. This is due to the fact that the bracelet is a health product, and as such the celebrities that use the product do not wish to be identified as this would indicate that they are suffering from a health problem themselves. One of the key features of the bracelet is that it is discreet, this is a key reason why people that are in the public eye use this product as they do not wish to be seen as having health problems.”
  5. The advertiser’s answer is unacceptable. It should be able to substantiate its claims about celebrities using the product.
  6. The ASA agreed. On 12 April 2018, it told me in an email: “We contacted the advertiser, and they were unable to substantiate the claim concerning celebrities. They have agreed to remove the claim from their future advertising unless they are able to evidence it.”

Mirror columnist Fiona Phillips plugs optician, without disclosure of interest

  1. TV presenter Fiona Phillips writes a column for the Daily Mirror newspaper. Headed “… because she cares”, it’s in the Saturday edition. There Ms Phillips has been plugging well-known optician Specsavers recently, without disclosure of interest.
  2. I first noticed on 3 February 2018. Under the headline “Should I really have gone to Specsavers?” Ms Phillips described in far too much detail obtaining “soft, monthly, disposable” contact lenses that week at, er, Specsavers. She added helpfully: “… previously, because of my prescription, [such contact lenses] hadn’t been available to me.”
  3. At the time I was surprised Ms Phillips named the optician, but thought nothing more about it until 14 April 2108, when she was at it again. In a story headed “Home eye tests for those in need”, the TV presenter wrote about Specsavershome eye test service for “those who are mainly housebound or in a care home”. (Daily Mirror 14 April 2018) She finished: “Why am I telling you this? Because a survey conducted for the famous brand found that most people are unaware of this vital service. Should have gone to Specsavers?”
  4. There may be more examples, but these are the ones I’ve seen.
  5. On both occasions, Ms Phillips failed to declare a relevant interest. Specsavers is paying her to promote its home eye test service, the company confirmed in an email. She appears on the optician’s website (screen shot in Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Fiona Phillips on Specsavers website at 16 April 2018

  6. It’s not only TV doctors, therefore, who plug products and services in the Mirror, without disclosure of interest (see 5 April 2018 post). High-profile columnists do as well.
  7. Why am I telling you this?” Indeed.
  8. At date of publication Ms Phillips hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards opens inquiry into Jeremy Hunt

  1. On 18 April 2018, Kathryn Stone, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, announced on her website that she has opened an inquiry into health secretary Jeremy Hunt, after he admitted breaching money laundering rules when buying seven luxury flats in Southampton.
  2. The revelations about Mr Hunt that led to the opening of the inquiry were reported in the front-page lead story in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on 13 April 2018 (see 13 April 2018 post). I was named as source of the story in the Telegraph exclusive.
  3. Mr Hunt received a “bulk discount” on the seven flats from a property firm owned and chaired by a Conservative donor, Nicolas James Roach, according to the Guardian newspaper on 19 April 2018.

Botham’s charity spent £97.5k last year – but none went on “charitable activities”

  1. Beefy’s Charity Foundation (BCF) is a grant-making charity – or at least its supposed to be (registered charity number: 1151516). In the year to 31 March 2017, ex-cricketer Sir Ian Botham’s charity made no grants despite income of £136.8k, the latest accounts, the charity’s fourth, show.
  2. BCF spent £97.5k last year but none went on “charitable activities”. Almost all, 97 per cent, was fundraising costs – £94.2k.
  3. Note 5 in the accounts states that the fundraising costs include “planning and upfront costs” for two events at the end of 2017: the Australia Walk, Sir Ian’s “final charity walk”; and in quick succession the “Run Out” dinner, in London. “Income from both of these events will be shown in next year’s accounts”, it adds.
  4. In 2016, I exclusively exposed BCF’s repeated failure in the three previous years’ accounts to disclose in full its business model (see 13 September 2016 and 21 October 2016 posts). Well, that non-disclosure continues in the fourth year. Neither the latest trustees’ annual report (TAR) nor the accounts identify or refer in any way to Sola Events Limited, the commercial events company (registered company number: 08506142), and its involvement with the charity. Yet the BCF website shows that the firm was involved in the organisation of both the Australia Walk (screen shot in Figure 1) and the “Run Out” dinner (screen shot in Figure 2). It was also behind the Indiana Masters 2016 event, for example, which took place in April that year, within the relevant reporting period (screen shot in Figure 3).

    Figure 1. Australia Walk on BCF website at 31 March 2018

    Figure 2. “Run Out” dinner booking form on BCF website at 31 March 2018

    Figure 3. Indiana Masters 2016 on BCF website at 31 March 2018

  5. Who is the owner and sole director of Sola Events Limited? Sarah Botham, er, daughter of Sir Ian. As I wrote on 13 September 2016, Ms Botham and her company are both related parties to BCF. And again, neither the latest TAR nor the accounts disclose the related-party transactions – the transactions between the charity and Sola Events Limited/Ms Botham, the related parties. Further, as before, neither the latest TAR nor the accounts reveal or consider the actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest for BCF in working with Sola Events Limited. (The conflict of interest arises through the family relationship.)
  6. On 13 September 2016, I urged BCF to be clearer and more transparent about its business model in its financial reporting. It didn’t listen. I made the same point again on 21 October 2016, after the charity that month filed its accounts for 31 March 2016, its third set. It’s disappointing – but predictable – that BCF‘s latest financial documents, for 31 March 2017, persist in hiding both Sola Events Limited and its role in organising the charity’s high-profile events. A new concern is that the charity made no grants last year despite income of £136.8k. That almost all its £97.5k expenditure was actually fundraising costs adds to the concern.
  7. In conclusion, the nature of last year’s spending only increases the need for full disclosure at BCF.
  8. There’s no suggestion that anyone has done anything illegal.
  9. When asked to comment on the fact that none of BCF’s £97.5k expenditure last year went on “charitable activities”, while nearly all was fundraising costs, trustee Douglas Osborne in an email simply referred to note 5 of the accounts (see above). Despite my request, he didn’t address the ongoing non-disclosure. Mr Osborne wrote only: “As we have previously pointed out there are no related-party transactions as [sic] between Sola Events and the Foundation.” I also asked the trustee in the same email to comment on the conflict of interest for BCF in working with Sola Events Limited, including non-disclosure of the conflict of interest; but Mr Osborne said nothing about these issues.

Leaflet for “detox foot patches” even worse than ads

  1. Today (18 April 2018) Health Broadcast Ltd, a fake limited company, has surpassed itself with a leaflet promoting the ridiculous “detox foot patches”. The leaflet is even more concerning than the firm’s national newspaper ads for same (see previous post).
  2. The leaflet was an insert in – you’ve guessed it – the Daily Mirror.
  3. For many reasons, the leaflet is shocking. For a start, it makes so many misleading health claims. Here I ignore those. Instead, I want to highlight something about the leaflet that means we can quickly dismiss the advertiser, without even considering the ludicrous health claims.
  4. The front of the leaflet proclaims “Detox while you sleep!”, “see press article inside”: Leaflet front back. The so-called article actually appears on the back of the leaflet, below the banner, “national press coverage”. As you can see, a newspaper, national or local, isn’t actually named. Funny that.
  5. What does the so-called article say? Well, the headline is certainly familiar, “Detox while you sleep!” As is the author, Sally Jennings. But then so, too, are the photo and content! That’s because what’s presented as an article in an unnamed national newspaper is in fact Health Broadcast Ltd‘s ad in the national press (see previous post) – but this time it isn’t identified as an ad.
  6. The presentation of the ad in the Mirror, remember, is highly troubling: it’s labelled “health report”, and creates the impression it’s an editorial feature written by Ms Jennings. Now it’s even worse in the leaflet, where the ad is presented as an article in the national press.
  7. The dishonesty is shocking. As I say, there’s no need to examine the preposterous health claims.

Yet another ad for “detox foot patches” in the Daily Mirror

  1. Today (17 April 2018) the Daily Mirror newspaper carried yet another full-page ad for the ridiculous “detox foot patches”: Daily Mirror 17 Apr 2018.
  2. Again, the advertiser is Health Broadcast Ltd, a fake limited company I first wrote about on 15 August 2017.
  3. In January 2018, Private Eye reported my linked exposés of national newspaper ads by Health Broadcast Ltd for “detox foot patches” (see 25 January 2018 post).
  4. Why does the Daily Mirror continue to show such disdain for its readers this way?

National newspaper follow-ups of my Jeremy Hunt exposé

  1. Today (14 April 2018) the rest of the national press have followed up yesterday’s Daily Telegraph front-page exclusive on health secretary Jeremy Hunt for which I was source (see previous post).
  2. Here I highlight two reports, where the journalists quoted me, after bothering to speak to me and ask questions. Proper journalism, then.
  3. I told the Daily Mail I was disappointed Mr Hunt simply blamed his accountant for the failures I identified (Daily Mail 14 April 2018).
  4. The Guardian, meanwhile, reported my comments about the lack of scrutiny at Companies House. It seems Companies House is open to potential abuse. Why didn’t it pick up the glaring errors in the details for Mr Hunt’s company? (Guardian 14 April 2018).