Political donations by Timpson Ltd: unexplained discrepancy of almost £100k between two independent public sources for 2009-2016

    1. Theres an unexplained discrepancy of almost £100k between two independent public sources for political donations made by shoe repair and key-cutting business Timpson Ltd for the eight years 2009-2016. Further, there’s incomplete disclosure of recipient in one of the sources, the company annual reports and accounts. These all show the Conservatives as recipient, failing to identify explicitly Edward Timpson MP as recipient. The MP, who was a government minister until losing his seat in the 2017 general election, is a related party of the family business. Thus the political donations are related party transactions – undisclosed related party transactions.
    2. The firm’s last accounts were made up to 1 October 2016, Companies House records show (registered company number: 00675216). And at that year-end Timpson Ltd had made 13 political donations, all non-cash and total value £730.4k, according to the Electoral Commission online database. The recipient was the same each time: Edward Timpson MP.
    3. Conservative Mr Timpson lost his seat, Crewe and Nantwich, to Labour by just 48 votes at the last general election in June 2017, having first been elected in May 2008 in a by-election. His last role in government was as Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families at the Department for Education July 2016-June 2017.
    4. Beginning in 2009, Timpson Ltd made at least one donation to the MP each of the eight years, Electoral Commission records show.
    5. Political donations above £2k must be disclosed by a company in the directors’ report within the annual report. For each year 2009-2016, political donations were disclosed in the annual report. And the recipient was the same each time: the “Conservative Party”. But here the total value was £633.0k – almost £100k (i.e. £97.4k) less than the Electoral Commission total, £730.4k (Table 1). (The 2009 directors’ report states that the firm made no political donations in 2008.)
Table 1. Political donations by Timpson Ltd 2009-2016 (GBP 000)
Year Annual report Electoral Commission
2009 18.0 66.7
2010 80.0 55.0
2011 72.0 59.2
2012 49.0 57.5
2013 95.0 154.6
2014 85.0 85.0
2015 113.0 125.4
2016 121.0 127.0
Total 633.0 730.4
    1. There’s something else about the company annual reports and accounts: they all fail to identify explicitly Edward Timpson MP as recipient of the political donations. It’s merely the Conservatives. This incomplete disclosure is disappointing because Edward, as his last name suggests, is a member of the eponymous family who own and run the ubiquitous high-street retailer. He’s a son of director Sir John Timpson, who’s company chair; and brother of director James Timpson, who succeeded his father as chief executive in 2011. Both Sir John and James are high-profile business figures.
    2. But the incomplete disclosure doesn’t stop there. The company annual reports and accounts all fail to disclose the donations to the MP as related party transactions. Edward is a related party of Timpson Ltd because he‘s a close family member of Sir John and James (see International Accounting Standard 24 Related Party Disclosures (IAS 24): http://www.iasplus.com/en-gb/standards/ias/ias24). Thus the political donations are related party transactions – undisclosed related party transactions.
    3. Prior to this year’s general election, Timpson Ltd didn’t respond to requests for comment. I wrote twice to the family business in May 2017 via its website. On each occasion I received nothing but an immediate automated acknowledgement of receipt (email). The retailer became responsive after the general election, however. On 21 July 2017, I contacted it for the third time via the website. In her response for Timpson Ltd three days later (email), Christine Hickman encloseda reply that should have been sent to you.” It said: “Further to your enquiry our independent external auditors have confirmed that the disclosures we have made in our statutory accounts are in compliance with the Large and Medium-sized Companies and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2008. We have made enquiries of the Electoral Commission and are awaiting a response.”
    4. I thanked Ms Hickman for the email by reply the same day (24 July 2017), adding I‘d await her further response. At date of publication I‘ve heard nothing.

Daily Mail repeatedly publishes ads for fake limited company

  1. The Daily Mail persists in publishing full-page ads for a fake limited company, despite my complaints to the newspaper.
  2. Health Broadcast Ltd is the advertiser. There’s no UK-registered company with that name, according to the Companies House register.
  3. I first came across Health Broadcast Ltd ads in the Mail on 11 March 2017, in an ad for “detox foot patches”: Daily Mail 11 Mar 2017 p.100. When I rang the freephone number shown, no one could explain why Health Broadcast Ltd wasn’t on the Companies House register, either. Further, everyone I spoke to referred to “Health Broadcast” only, without the “Ltd” (Limited) suffix.
  4. On the same day, I complained to the Mail’s readers’ editor (email). I received an anonymous response a few days later, thanking me for contacting the newspaper. He/she had “alerted our advertising department and asked them to investigate as a matter of urgency.” I wrote back the same day saying I expected to hear from the Mail in due course.
  5. But I didn’t hear anything.
  6. On 27 May 2017, meanwhile, Health Broadcast Ltd had another full-page ad in the paper; this time for a “pain-relieving gel”: Daily Mail 27 May 2017 p.104. I therefore complained again to the readers’ editor, on 1 June 2017, pointing out this was the second time I’d done so. I finished by asking: why does the Daily Mail persist in betraying its readers for the sake of the advertiser?
  7. I received another anonymous response from the “readers’ editor’s office” the next day. It said: “We have passed your latest email on to our advertising department and asked them to look into it. We will revert to you when we can shed further light on the situation.”
  8. Yet, again, I heard nothing.
  9. On 8 July 2017, I then saw the ad for the “pain-relieving gel” again: Daily Mail 8 July 2017. But Health Broadcast Ltd had changed its trading address to prestigious Mayfair in central London – 43 Berkeley Square, London W1J 5AP. This is the address of Hatton & Berkeley Global Limited (registered company number: 10145165), a professional business services firm. Its services include virtual offices in London; 43 Berkeley Square is its Berkeley Square virtual office address. (www.hattonandberkeley-virtualoffice.com)
  10. On 12 July 2017, I called the phone number in the latest ad, which remained the same after the change in trading address. Again, my call was answered as “Health Broadcast” only. And again, the call handler seemingly couldn’t explain why Health Broadcast Ltd wasn’t registered at Companies House. But he could supply an email address for the alleged limited company: customerservices@healthbroadcastltd.com.
  11. At date of publication I haven’t received a response to emails asking why Health Broadcast Ltd isn’t on the Companies House register.
  12. Also, at date of publication there isn’t a company website at domain healthbroadcastltd.com. Without a website, there’s almost no publicly available information about the alleged limited company. Matthew Ward at UpsilonDM Limited (registered company number: 07207377) is registrant of the domain, according to Whois records. Filings at Companies House show Mr Ward is sole director of UpsilonDM Limited, which has a registered office address in Whitley Bay in North East England.
  13. The Health Broadcast Ltd full-page ads continue in the Daily Mail – the most recent I saw was on 14 August 2017: Daily Mail 14 Aug 2017 p.68. Here I say nothing about the validity (or not) of the health claims in the ads. Rather, I ask only: why is the newspaper persisting in publishing ads for a fake limited company?

The Daisy Network exposé in The Sunday Times

  1. On 30 July 2017, Andrew Gilligan, senior correspondent, used my The Daisy Network exposé (see 17 July 2017 post) as the basis of a report in The Sunday Times newspaper.
  2. Gilligan‘s report (“Menopause charities linked to US-based HRT company”) is available on the newspaper’s website, behind a paywall: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/menopause-charities-linked-to-usbased-hrt-company-m6lkk3nbj. Here too is a scanned copy of the page for those like me outside the paywall: The Sunday Times 30 July 2017.

Police Arboretum Memorial Trust exposé in The Times

  1. On 18 July 2017, Billy Kenber, investigations reporter, used my Police Arboretum Memorial Trust exposé (see 13 June 2017 post) as the basis of a report in The Times newspaper.
  2. Kenber’s report (“UK Police Memorial Trust spends £640,000 on private consultants”) is available on the newspaper’s website, behind a paywall: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/uk-police-memorial-trust-spends-640-000-on-private-consultants-shn3cjzcf. Here too is a scanned copy of the page for those like me outside the paywall: The Times 18 July 2017.

Brand manager at HRT manufacturer is trustee of charity providing “support, information and networking opportunities” to women with premature menopause

  1. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the main treatment for menopause. The manager of the HRT portfolio at pharmaceutical company Mylan UK is a trustee of The Daisy Network, a charity providing “support, information and networking opportunities” to women with premature menopause (registered charity number: 1077930). At date of publication the charity website fails to disclose her paid role at the drug firm, however. Her fatal conflict of interest as a trustee is hidden.
  2. The charity website is key for transparency and accountability. Daisy hasn’t been required to submit its trustees’ annual report (TAR) and accounts to the Charity Commission in each of the last five financial years because reported income each year was below the £25k threshold. Without TAR and accounts, though, there’s very little information about the charity on the public record. It’s thus easy for The Daisy Network and other small charities, as defined by income, to avoid scrutiny (see 9 September 2015 post). There’s no suggestion that the charity has done anything illegal.
  3. Daisy has five trustees, according to the commission online public register of charities. The trustee biographies on the charity website are vague and incomplete. For a start, the group isn’t explicitly identified as the trustees: it’s simply “our people” (screen shot in Figure 1). Last names are undisclosed. Katie, for example, has worked in the “healthcare industry for over 4 years… [with] experience in advertising, journalism and marketing.” She’s “editor” at the charity.

    Figure 1. Charity The Daisy Network website: “our people” page at 6 July 2017

  4. Katie is actually Katie Sewards, who manages the HRT portfolio at Mylan UK (screen shot in Figure 2). Ms Sewards told Pharmafield in a profile published on 24 April 2017 that she’s used her “[pharma] experience to volunteer my time to a women’s health charity over the past 12 months” (screen shot in Figure 3). The charity isn’t named, though.

    Figure 2. Katie Sewards: brand Manager at Mylan UK at 6 July 2017

    Figure 3. Katie Sewards: voluntary role at “a women’s health charity” at 6 July 2017

  5. Ms Sewards previously worked for Swedish drugmaker Meda, which Mylan took over in 2016: https://www.pharmafield.co.uk/Pf-Fox-News/Talent/2017/04/Mylan-Uks-Katie-Sewards-on-what-it-means-to-make-a-difference.
  6. And last year Meda funded a PR campaign to promote use of HRT in women, a campaign aimed at both primary care professionals AND patients (screen shot in Figure 4). The campaign was run by agency Events 4 Healthcare Ltd (E4H; registered company number: 06237925), whom Ms Sewards thanked for its “superb job” (screen shot in Figure 5).

    Figure 4. Funded by Meda, PR campaign to promote use of HRT in women; aimed at both primary care professionals AND patients at 6 July 2017

    Figure 5. Katie Sewards thanks Events 4 Healthcare Ltd for its “superb job” on HRT PR campaign at 6 July 2017

  7. E4H used a linked organisation, the Primary Care Women’s Health Forum (PCWHF), that it operates from the same address, to reach primary care workers. Although PCWHF says it’s a charity on its homepage (screen shot in Figure 6), it isn’t one. Rather, it’s a community interest company (CIC; registered company number: 08747435).

    Figure 6. The Primary Care Women’s Health Forum (PCWHF) “is a charity”: homepage at 6 July 2017

  8. PCWHF now no longer states it’s a charity on the website, after I questioned the claim in an email. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, this has now been addressed,” said the single-sentence response the next day.
  9. Pharmafield, who published the profile of Ms Sewards (see paras 4-5), is part of the E4H group, too.
  10. In July 2016, PCWHF published its “HRT Myths Uncovered” document, the basis of the PR campaign: HRT-Myths-Uncovered. The two-page document states: “Funded and supported by Meda Pharmaceuticals. Developed by Primary Care Women’s Health Forum (PCWHF). Please note Meda has had no involvement in the content of this graphic, but reviewed for factual accuracy.” It finishes by telling readers: “For further information, please visit Menopause Matters [a website] & The Daisy Network.” There’s no mention that Meda is linked to Daisy (via Ms Sewards), however.
  11. The “HRT Myths Uncovered” document thus creates the impression that The Daisy Network is an independent charity. It isn’t. The link with Meda (now Mylan UK) undermines its independence and credibility. What’s worse, Daisy hides the link.
  12. Independence and credibility are critical for any charity, let alone one for women experiencing premature menopause. The problem is that The Daisy Network is only the latest menopause charity to be entangled with pharmaceutical companies. In November 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published its guideline on the diagnosis and management of menopause. On the back of the NICE guideline, charity the British Menopause Society (BMS; registered charity number: 1015144) organised a PR campaign to “educate women about all aspects of the menopause and post-reproductive health.” The trustees documented the objectives of the campaign in their annual report, made up to 31 December 2015. They also stated that it was funded by “three unrestricted educational grants” from “pharmaceutical companies and a healthcare company.” But they failed to disclose the names of the three firms whose grants funded the national PR campaign.
  13. I therefore asked BMS in an email to identify the companies. They were: Novo Nordisk, Mylan and Pharmacare, said Sara Moger, BMS chief executive (email). Mylan again, then.
  14. I shall return in a later post to something else Ms Moger told me in the email about BMS’s reporting of funding from companies.
  15. In the month before publication of the NICE guideline, Mylan funded a controversial PR campaign – in its own name this time – to promote use of HRT for menopause, as Sarah Boseley revealed in The Guardian newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/07/scientists-fear-pr-campaign-underplays-hrt-cancer-risks. Here’s the relevant Mylan press release on 19 October 2015, “Women may be suffering needlessly during menopause:” http://www.mylan.co.uk/en-gb/news/2014/women-may-be-suffering-needlessly-during-menopause. I asked Ms Moger in an email whether the Mylan press release was part of the BMS national PR campaign. Why the question? For two reasons. First, the press release is entirely consistent with the objectives of the BMS national PR campaign, according to the charity TAR, made up to 31 December 2015, p.6. Second, something not mentioned by The Guardian: the two non-Mylan experts quoted in the press release are linked or have been linked to BMS/WHC: Susan Quilliam (screen shot in Figure 7) and Dr Sarah Gray (screen shot in Figure 8).

    Figure 7. Susan Quilliam joins medical advisory panel of charity Women’s Health Concern at 16 June 2017

    Figure 8. Dr Sarah Gray “sat on the British Menopause Society council for 10 years”: speaker biography for 2017 PCWHF annual conference at 5 July 2017

  16. Charity Women’s Health Concern (WHC) is the self-styled “patient arm” of BMS (registered charity number: 279651). Ms Moger is one of the three trustees, and again public contact.
  17. The Mylan press release wasn’t part of the BMS national PR campaign, replied Ms Moger (email). Nevertheless my question was reasonable for the two reasons above. Something else about BMS’s campaign deserves attention: the PR company the charity used.
  18. Disappointingly, the BMS annual report failed to identify the company. It was Edelman, I can reveal (screen shot in Figure 9). And Edelman acts for Novo Nordisk on menopause treatments, according to a 2013 press release from the drug company for a research paper (screen shot in Figure 10). But it’s cosier than that: Novo Nordisk explicitly mentioned the then BMS affiliations of two co-authors it quoted in the press release for its study, Dr Heather Currie and Dr Nick Panay. Dr Currie has just stepped down as BMS chair, while Dr Panay is a trustee.

    Figure 9. Edelman PR campaign for charity the British Menopause Society at 8 June 2017

    Figure 10. Edelman press release for Novo Nordisk at 8 June 2017

  19. And Dr Panay, who’s former BMS chair, brings us back to The Daisy Network: he’s “a longstanding patron” of the charity (screen shot in Figure 11). It’s a small world.

    Figure 11. Dr Nick Panay: “a longstanding patron” of charity The Daisy Network at 6 July 2017

  20. There’s another problem with Daisy, and it again relates to medications. On 29 June 2017, the charity tweeted a link to its interview on the website Treated.com (screen shot in Figure 12), which describes itself as “a private online health clinic based in the UK” (screen shot in Figure 13). Its services include an online pharmacy. At date of publication there’s a sentence, undated and unexplained, at the foot of each page on Treated.com: “We are reviewing our services and systems and we are unable to process orders at this time.” The same message appears prominently on the homepage. Similarly, callers to its customer service number during the advertised opening hours hear a recorded message that finishes abruptly: “We’re sorry there’s no one available to take your call right now. Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you.”

    Figure 12. Charity The Daisy Network on Twitter promoting its interview with Treated.com, online pharmacy at 7 July 2017

    Figure 13. Treated.com “about us” page at 6 July 2017

  21. Treated.com has recently been in the news – for all the wrong reasons. In March this year, regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a damning inspection report into the online provider, as Dr Faye Kirkland reported on the BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39134061. The CQC suspended its registration “in order to protect patients.” In October 2016, Dr Kirkland exposed Treated.com in her investigation of the inappropriate sale of antibiotics by online pharmacies, for programme 5 live Investigates, on BBC Radio 5 live.
  22. In light of the CQC’s censure and suspension of registration, it’s astonishing that The Daisy Network is happy to be associated with Treated.com. That the charity is promoting its association on Twitter is equally astonishing.
  23. As BMS shows, the problem of menopause charities being too close to the pharmaceutical industry, or reasonably perceived as such, isn’t new. Yet The Daisy Network is a worrying escalation: the manager of the HRT portfolio at a leading drug company is a trustee. She thus has a fatal conflict of interest, actual, potential, or perceived, as a trustee. As a small charity by income, and so without publicly available TAR and accounts, its website is key for transparency and accountability. Of as much concern as the conflict of interest, therefore, is that the charity website hides how it arises. Further, Daisy is happy to be associated with a discredited online pharmacy – and promote its association on Twitter.
  24. At date of publication The Daisy Network hasn’t responded to requests for comment via email.

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).