- In July 2018, Boris Johnson was re-employed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper on a salary of £275k a year for his weekly column, according to parliament’s latest (at 1 October 2018) register of MPs’ financial interests.
- There’s something interesting in the ex-foreign secretary’s disclosures on the register about the job. There he states: “I consulted ACOBA [Advisory Committee on Business Appointments] about this appointment.”
- That’s not quite the full story, though. True, Mr Johnson consulted the committee – but after his appointment had been announced. ACOBA duly rebuked him in August 2018 for failing to follow the ministerial code: he should have sought its advice prior to acceptance of a new role. Thus the committee refused to give retrospective advice.
- On 4 October 2018, The Guardian, among other newspapers, reported Mr Johnson’s newly revealed Telegraph salary – here’s the online report: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/03/daily-telegraph-rehires-boris-johnson-on-275000-salary. What a pity, though, it omitted to mention why the former foreign secretary’s disclosures on the register about the role were incomplete.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Here I highlight two reports, where the journalists quoted me, after bothering to speak to me and ask questions. Proper journalism, then.
- I told the Daily Mail I was disappointed Mr Hunt simply blamed his accountant for the failures I identified (Daily Mail 14 April 2018).
- 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).
- 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”.
- I‘m named in the story as source, in the final paragraph on p.2.
- 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.
- It’s also available online (paywall): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/04/12/exclusive-jeremy-hunt-admits-breaking-governments-rules-company/.
- Er… That’s it.
- On 1 January 2018, I had a letter published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on “reputable” health websites and their problems.
- This was in response to the Telegraph’s front-page story on 29 December 2017, “Patients told: ask Dr Google before your GP”. There it was reporting the latest advice from the Royal College of GPs to reduce the number of unnecessary GP consultations: http://www.rcgp.org.uk/news/2017/december/3-before-gp-new-rcgp-mantra-to-help-combat-winter-pressures-in-general-practice.aspx.
- My letter is available on the Telegraph website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2018/01/01/lettersthe-honours-system-based-strange-definition-public-service/.
- For those outside the paywall, here it is as published:
In an attempt to reduce the number of unnecessary GP consultations, the Royal College of GPs has advised the public to follow three steps before booking an appointment (report, December 29). One of these is to consult NHS Choices or “similar reputable websites/ resources”.
But what exactly is a reputable health website? Opaque business models abound, even among trusted websites. Very few, if any, adequately disclose their contributors’ relevant financial interests.
Moreover, if a health site carries adverts, the separation between them and editorial can be blurred.
Dr Alex May
- On 30 October 2017, Charles Moore wrote about “wonderful” charity Style for Soldiers in his notebook column in The Daily Telegraph newspaper: Daily Telegraph 30 Oct 2017. But he failed to disclose something relevant – colleague Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph fashion director, is a trustee of the charity that provides bespoke clothes for wounded soldiers.
- The “Fashion Journalist of the Year” hasn’t just become a trustee. Ms Armstrong was a founding director – that is, trustee – when the charitable company was incorporated on 13 November 2012, according to Companies House records (registered company number: 08291711). The Charity Commission public register of charities confirms her as a trustee (registered charity number: 1161119).
- It may be “wonderful” as former Telegraph editor Mr Moore says, but Style for Soldiers seems to be confused about the difference between patron and trustee. Ms Armstrong is identified as a patron on the charity website (screen shot in Figure 1). Shirtmaker Emma Willis set up Style for Soldiers.
- This isn’t the first time the military charity has appeared in The Telegraph, however. On 17 December 2016, for example, Ms Armstrong wrote a gushing profile of founder and trustee Ms Willis in The Daily Telegraph, nominating her as woman of the year for her achievements with Style for Soldiers. Here’s the online version: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/brands/meet-emma-willis-tailor-helping-injured-soldiers-regain-confidence/. Hardly an unbiased nomination. Yet the fashion director didn’t declare her own role at the charity, so readers had no idea of the ridiculousness of the situation.
- Almost exactly a year before, meanwhile, then chief reporter Gordon Rayner reported on Style for Soldiers in The Sunday Telegraph (20 December 2015). Again, here’s the online version: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12058116/Style-For-Soldiers-how-a-charity-has-used-bespoke-clothes-to-restore-wounded-soldiers-confidence.html. Mr Rayner, you won’t be surprised to learn, failed to mention colleague Ms Armstrong. What’s more, an editorial that Sunday, too, plugged Style for Soldiers – again saying nothing about the fashion director‘s position there.
- The Telegraph has given lots of publicity to Style for Soldiers, almost always failing to declare Ms Armstrong‘s involvement with the charity. Columnist Mr Moore is only continuing the tradition.
- Mr Moore hasn’t responded to requests for comment at date of publication.
- Today (18 October 2017) is 2017 World Menopause Day, as Allison Pearson told readers in her Daily Telegraph column, er, today. She didn’t mention GP and menopause expert Dr Louise Newson this time, though (see previous post).
- To coincide with 2017 World Menopause Day, charity the British Menopause Society (BMS; registered charity number: 1015144) today released the results of an online survey it commissioned on UK women’s experiences of the menopause. “The findings reveal the need for greater support for women experiencing the menopause across the UK,” claims BMS. Here’s the press release, which shows the charity again used PR company Edelman: EMBARGOED-UNTIL-18-OCT-2017-00.01_BMS-Survey-Results-2017_Press-Release.
- BMS used Edelman for last year’s national PR campaign organised around a 2015 survey (see 17 July 2017 post). There I revealed who actually funded the previous PR campaign – three pharmaceutical companies: Novo Nordisk, Mylan and Pharmacare. Prior to my investigation, BMS hadn’t disclosed the funding sources.
- As today’s press release shows, the charity has again failed to be transparent about who’s funded its PR campaign. It says nothing about funding. Disappointing, but predictable.