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.
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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).

Telegraph leads with my Jeremy Hunt exposé

  1. On 13 April 2018, the Daily Telegraph newspaper used my Jeremy Hunt exposé (see previous post) as the basis of its front-page lead story, “Hunt admits breaking rules over luxury flats”.
  2. Im named in the story as source, in the final paragraph on p.2.
  3. Here is a scanned copy of the front-page lead: Telegraph 13 April 2018 p.1. And here is a scanned copy of the rest of the story on p.2: Telegraph 13 April 2018 p.2.
  4. It’s also available online (paywall): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/04/12/exclusive-jeremy-hunt-admits-breaking-governments-rules-company/.
  5. Er… That’s it.

Jeremy Hunt corrects errors at Companies House after my email – but is unresponsive

  1. I recently discovered errors in Companies House records for a new company jointly owned by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and his wife. The company information was duly corrected the day after I emailed Mr Hunt at parliament. Yet at date of publication the health secretary, or his office, hasn’t responded to requests for comment, which is disappointing.
  2. On 7 March 2018, Mr Hunt registered on the register of MPs’ financial interests joint ownership with his wife of “property holding company” Mare Pond Properties Limited (registered company number: 10970413). At the same time, he also registered purchase by his company of seven flats – just seven – in Southampton the previous month.
  3. On 28 March 2018, I asked the health secretary in an email: If you and your wife are joint owners, why aren’t each of you shown as a person with significant control” (PSC) on your company’s PSC register at Companies House?
  4. There was no PSC, according to his PSC register. (For an explanation of PSC, see http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/PSC.)
  5. I finished by inviting Mr Hunt to comment.
  6. An automated acknowledgement email immediately appeared in my inbox.
  7. The day after my message (i.e. 29 March 2018), his company’s PSC register at Companies House was duly corrected, filings there show.
  8. Having heard nothing a week later, I sent a reminder, now referring to the changes at Companies House, too. Again, I requested a comment.
  9. Straightaway another automated acknowledgement email arrived. But at date of publication there’s been nothing else.
  10. Mr Hunt‘s unresponsiveness is disappointing. The health secretary continually bangs on about how NHS staff and organisations must be open, transparent and accountable – particularly when things go wrong during patient care (“duty of candour”). He’s right, of course. What a pity, then, Mr Hunt fails to practise what he preaches.

Iain Dale is an “ex-Tory MP” – POLITICO

  1. On 10 December 2017, political news website POLITICO described Iain Dale as “commentator and ex-Tory MP” in its weekly Sunday Crunch round-up of British politics that, er, Sunday (screen shot in Figure 1). In fact, Mr Dale was never actually an MP: he was a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in the May 2005 general election, though, according to the biography on his personal website.

    Figure 1. Iain Dale, “commentator and ex-Tory MP” – POLITICO Sunday Crunch on 10 December 2017

  2. Mr Dale is well known for being managing director of Biteback Publishing, which bills itself as “Britain’s leading publisher of political and current affairs titles”. Biteback’s new books include high-profile “Betting the House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election,” by UK political journalists Tim Ross and Tom McTague.
  3. Which brings us back to POLITICO: Mr McTague is its chief UK political correspondent, based in parliament. As such, he was joint author with Paul Dallison of the 10 December 2017 Sunday Crunch.
  4. Mr Dale must hope “Betting the House” is more accurate.
  5. We’d love to hear what you think,” says Sunday Crunch. Yet at date of publication Mr McTague hasn’t responded to my email. The “ex-Tory MP” claim remains, too.

Tim Yeo was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says Turquoise

  1. Former Tory MP Tim Yeo is a “senior consultant” at Turquoise, a London-based merchant bank specialising in “energy, environment and efficiency”.
  2. 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.

    Figure 1. Tim Yeo at Turquoise at 25 September 2017

  3. 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.
  4. Government and opposition are, er, obviously different.
  5. 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.

UK 2020: Former cabinet minister’s “dormant” thinktank publishes 157-page report

  1. 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.”
  2. 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).
  3. 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?
  4. At date of publication neither Mr Paterson at parliament nor UK 2020 itself responded to requests for comment.