Nine reasons why Lord Evans working for Luminance, Darktrace and KPMG UK is problematic

  1. MIKE LYNCH BACKS LUMINANCE AND DARKTRACE On 18 December 2018, I exclusively exposed Lord Evans of Weardale‘s avoidable conflict of interest after he added yet another paid role – chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, ironically enough. The Sunday Times newspaper then reported my analysis, when on the same day Lord Evans made it known he will give up one of his six other posts – as non-executive director of HSBC Holdings PLC (see 30 December 2018 post). Meanwhile, the peer continues as a paid adviser to two linked UK tech start-up companies, Luminance Technologies Ltd and Darktrace Ltd. Both companies use artificial intelligence (AI): Luminance for the analysis of legal documents; Darktrace for cyber security. Both, too, are backed by British tech entrepreneur Dr Mike Lynch via his venture capital firm, Invoke Capital. Further, Dr Lynch is a director of Luminance and was a director of Darktrace until 30 November 2018. Previously, Dr Lynch was founder and chief executive of Autonomy, the former FTSE 100 tech company. In 2011, Hewlett Packard (HP) bought Autonomy for $11bn. Within a year, however, HP protested strongly at what it perceived as financial impropriety at Autonomy, and wrote off nearly $9bn. Six years later, at the end of November 2018, the US Department of Justice finally charged Dr Lynch with fraud over the sale of Autonomy to HP. The Autonomy founder and former chief executive strongly denies the charges and any wrongdoing. (On ‎30‎ ‎April‎ ‎2018, Sushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s former chief financial officer, was convicted in the US of accounting fraud. Mr Hussain, who was also a director of Darktrace, has appealed against his conviction.)
  2. AUTONOMY ALLEGED ACCOUNTING SCANDAL Alleged problems with Autonomy‘s accounts are at the heart of the alleged fraud. It’s an alleged accounting scandal. Thus it appears strange for Lord Evans to work for KPMG UK as an independent non-executive, when KPMG UK is one of the so-called Big Four accounting firms (PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG).
  3. KPMG DUE DILIGENCE REPORT FOR HP ABOUT AUTONOMY What’s more, KPMG is key to the Autonomy alleged accounting scandal. Prior to the acquisition, HP hired KPMG to do due diligence on the tech firm. Dr Lynch has been publicly citing KPMG’s due diligence report in his favour since HP first went public in 2012 with its accusations of accounting fraud at Autonomy. The due diligence report is publicly accessible at a website Dr Lynch maintains, Autonomy Accounts. True, KPMG UK didn’t carry out the due diligence. Nevertheless Lord Evans‘ employer is part of the multinational.
  4. LUMINANCE IS USED BY THREE OF THE BIG FOUR ACCOUNTING FIRMS On 7 February 2019, Luminance announced it had secured a further $10m (£7.7m) from its backers, including Invoke Capital. The press release says the legal AI start-up‘s customers include three of the Big Four accounting firms, although it doesn’t name them. This is problematic for Lord Evans, whether or not KPMG UK is one of the three. If KPMG UK uses Luminance, his role as an independent non-executive at the accounting firm would be conflicted. While if KPMG UK doesn’t use it, there’s the risk, actual, potential or perceived, Lord Evanslegitimate interest in winning new clients for the start-up might interfere with his ability to serve as an independent non-executive at the accounting firm. KPMG UK would be an obvious potential customer in such circumstances. (Meanwhile, how many of the Big Four, if any, use Darktrace is unclear.)
  5. BRUNSWICK IS PR FIRM FOR MIKE LYNCH Autonomy hired PR firm Brunswick back in 2011 during the HP takeover. Dr Lynch now uses its services – or at least did at 28 September 2015, according to the Computing website. ( Meanwhile, Robert Webb QC, who was chair of Autonomy, is a “senior adviser” at Brunswick (screen shot in Figure 1). He joined the firm in 2016, according to his Who’s Who 2019 entry. It’s an even smaller world: Mr Webb is also chair and director of Luminance, and chair and director of Darktrace! Thus the two tech companies aren’t linked to Dr Lynch and Autonomy merely because Invoke, which he founded in late 2012, backs them. There’s another connection via Brunswick and Mr Webb. (The Autonomy Accounts website invites questions. In January 2019, I asked via the submission form whether Brunswick is responsible for the website. I didn’t receive a reply.)

    Figure 1. Rob (Robert) Webb QC is a “senior adviser” at Brunswick: company website at 31 January 2019

  6. ERROR IN LUMINANCE LATEST ACCOUNTS Luminance’s latest accounts are made up to 31 December 2017. There note 6, “auditor’s remuneration”, in the notes to the financial statements, fails to disclose the actual figure for auditor’s remuneration (screen shot in Figure 2). Further, there the 2016 figure isn’t stated, either. Why?

    Figure 2. 2017 accounts: Luminance Technologies Ltd

  7. UNEXPLAINED LATE FILING OF LUMINANCE LATEST ACCOUNTS Luminance’s latest accounts were due by 30 September 2018. Nevertheless the firm only filed at Companies House on 4 December 2018. There’s no indication in the accounts why the firm submitted so late. In December 2018, I twice emailed Emily Foges, the legal AI start-up‘s chief executive, seeking an explanation. I didn’t receive a response.
  8. AUDITOR INDEPENDENCE Luminance picked Alison Seekings at Grant Thornton as independent auditor. Ms Seekings also recently acted as independent auditor for each of four tech start-up companies linked to Luminance: Darktrace Ltd; Neurence Ltd; Genalys Ltd; and DVL Technology Ltd. These five firms, all backed by Invoke, are linked in various ways. Here Im concerned Ms Seekings could be conflicted as independent auditor because the five companies are linked and so not independent. In other words, theres the risk that auditor independence could be compromised. In January 2019, Ms Seekings didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment.
  9. LUMINANCE HASN’T ADDRESSED ERROR IN LATEST ACCOUNTS Also in January 2019, I twice emailed Mr Webb in his capacity as chair and director of Luminance, requesting comment on the above three issues about the firm’s latest accounts. Again, I didn’t receive a reply. Further, at date of publication the legal AI start-up has failed to rectify the error in its latest accounts, after I pointed it out in my emails to him.
  10. When asked for comment, Lord Evans said in an email: “As you will have noticed, I am not a director of Darktrace or Luminance nor do I have any executive role with either firm. I am therefore not in a position to comment on the matters that you raise. Nor am I in a position to comment on the litigation that you mention, even if it were proper to do so when it is before the courts, as I have no involvement in it.”
  11. There’s no suggestion that Lord Evans has done anything illegal.

Lord Evans of Weardale exposé in The Sunday Times – and a job down

  1. On 30 December 2018, Andrew Gilligan, senior correspondent, reported in The Sunday Times newspaper my Lord Evans of Weardale exposé (see 18 December 2018 post).
  2. Mr Gilligan’s report (“Watchdog on conflicts of interest has six other jobs”), page 2 lead, is here: STS_20181230_null_null_01_2.
  3. And following the story in this morning’s paper… In entirely unrelated news, Sky News later today revealed that Lord Evans, who is chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, is to give up one of his six other posts – as non-executive director of HSBC Holdings PLC:

Care after Combat: Trustee Andrew Griffiths MP and Conservative campaigning undermine its credibility

  1. Here I reveal two reasons for concern about military charity Care after Combat as it seeks more money from the government for its work with veterans, following the £1m it received in 2015 (registered charity number: 1159342).
  2. First, there is conflicting evidence whether disgraced former government minister Andrew Griffiths MP was or is a trustee. What’s more, the charity’s response – from the chief executiveto a polite request for clarification was obstructive, dismissive and rude. Second, Care after Combat uses its official Twitter account for party-political campaigning, as the recent Conservative party conference shows.
  3. Registered as a charity on 25 November 2014, Care after Combat was founded by comedian Jim Davidson, who is chief executive. His is a paid role plus “expenses”, as Andrew Gilligan revealed in The Sunday Times newspaper on 25 September 2016. His report also mentioned that Mr Griffiths, then a government whip, was a trustee at the time. But was he?
  4. The charity’s 2016 trustees’ annual report shows Mr Griffiths became a trustee on 10 March 2016. Further, Care after Combat announced on its website on 23 March 2016 his appointment as a trustee (screen shot in Figure 1). So that’s clear then. Not quite.

    Figure 1. Andrew Griffiths MP appointed as a trustee: Care after Combat website on 23 March 2016

  5. The Companies House records for Care after Combat don’t show the concomitant appointment of Mr Griffiths as a director (registered company number: 09152620).
  6. Also, Mr Griffiths didn’t disclose he was a trustee of Care after Combat in parliament’s list of ministers’ interests at December 2016. There the then government whip lists roles with six charities, none of which are Mr Davidson‘s.
  7. Meanwhile, the charity’s 2017 trustees’ annual report, its latest, omits to mention trustee Mr Griffiths. There’s no record of him at all.
  8. Again, the list of ministers’ interests at December 2017 shows Mr Griffiths‘ posts with now five charities, none of which are Care after Combat.
  9. Mr Davidson is public contact, too, for the charity. I emailed him two questions about alleged trustee Mr Griffiths. First, why don’t the Companies House records for Care after Combat show the concomitant appointment of Mr Griffiths as a director? Second, why does the 2017 trustees’ annual report omit to mention trustee Mr Griffiths?
  10. Mr Davidson replied instantly: “With the greatest of respect……… [sic] You are clearly without all the facts. I would suggest you aim your questions to Companies House or the Charities [sic] Commission.” I didn’t respond.
  11. A few minutes later I received another message from him: “I’ve just looked you up…. [sic] have you nothing better to do? Sad [sic]It could have been President Trump of the US.
  12. The lack of reference to alleged trustee Mr Griffiths in Care after Combat‘s 2017 trustees’ annual report raises serious questions about the management of the charity and its record-keeping. If he had resigned as a trustee, it should be recorded in the annual report. Similarly, the absence of filings at Companies House about Mr Griffiths as a director needs explanation.
  13. Mr Griffiths isn’t currently listed as a trustee of Care after Combat on the Charity Commission public register of charities.
  14. In July, Mr Griffiths resigned as minister for small business – after the Sunday Mirror newspaper revealed that he had sent hundreds of sexually explicit messages to two female constituents, both over 20 years younger than him. Mr Griffiths, who is married with a young child, continues as MP for Burton, sitting as an independent in light of ongoing investigations.
  15. Mr Griffiths didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    Figure 2. Care after Combat re-tweets glowing assessments of 2018 Conservative party conference by justice secretary David Gauke and party chair Brandon Lewis on 3 October 2018

  16. Care after Combat has been closely linked to the Conservatives from the beginning. Mr Davidson is a long-term public supporter of the party. Thus the formal involvement of Tory MP Mr Griffiths as a trustee isn’t surprising. Particularly concerning, though, is the charity’s use of its official Twitter account for Conservative campaigning. I refer to its tweets around this year’s Tory party conference, for example, which took place in Birmingham from 30 September until 3 October. Here I show examples from two days, but there are many others. First, at the end of the conference, Care after Combat re-tweeted glowing assessments of the event by justice secretary David Gauke and party chair Brandon Lewis (screen shot in Figure 2). Second, on 1 October, the charity tweeted and re-tweeted Tory MP Conor Burns: “Conor Burns. Great supporter. Good friend. Top bloke. Nuff said” (screen shot in Figure 3). The same day it re-tweeted a quote from Defra secretary Michael Gove’s conference speech, a quote strongly attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Figure 3).

    Figure 3. Care after Combat tweets and re-tweets Tory MP Conor Burns on 1 October 2018; and re-tweets quote from Defra secretary Michael Gove, which strongly attacks Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

  17. Charities are prohibited from party-political campaigning. Thus Care after Combat‘s tweets in support of the Conservatives are unacceptable. Charities must be politically neutral.
  18. Care after Combat has recently appointed a political lobbyist, Hume Brophy, according to the firm’s disclosures on the current register of the Association of Professional Political Consultants (APPC), that from 1 June 2018 until 31 August 2018. The charity wasn’t a Hume Brophy client on the previous register. Here there’s a yet another link to the Conservatives and the government! Former government minister James Wharton is executive chair of corporate and public affairs at the political lobbyist.
  19. Care after Combat is lobbying government for more money, it appears. On funding, its 2017 trustees’ annual report says: “The next twelve months will indicate the commitment of Her Majesties [sic] Government to Care After Combat’s cause and the Phoenix project that it helped to establish.” Back in 2015, the government somewhat controversially awarded the charity £1m from the LIBOR fund, which was established by then Conservative chancellor George Osborne to support veterans. On 25 September 2016, The Sunday Times revealed that Tory ex-Brexit secretary David Davis had the previous year written a letter to Mr Osborne in support of the charity receiving a grant from the LIBOR fund. Clearly, Mr Davidson‘s links to senior Conservatives helped secure the £1m from government for what was then a new charity without a meaningful track record.
  20. The lack of clarity and transparency around when Mr Griffiths was or is a trustee, if indeed he ever was, is unacceptable. The apparent deficiencies in the charity’s reporting of his role only adds to the concern, as does its contemptuous response to legitimate questions. Meanwhile, Care after Combat‘s communications on Twitter demonstrate it isn’t politically neutral. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that founder Mr Davidson as chief executive – salaried plus “expenses”, of course – is overly dominant and conflicted. Being a right-wing comedian and long-term Conservative campaigner is one thing. Being the chief executive of a charity is another – or at least should be. The two roles are simply incompatible, even without the fact that Care after Combat has been dependent on government largesse (Conservative chancellor) and is lobbying for more.
  21. ADDENDUM: For the avoidance of doubt, this analysis isn’t politically motivated. The problems arise because even as a charity chief executive, Mr Davidson, who styles himself “the people’s comedian”, has been and continues to be a public supporter of a political party. A party that as the government holds the purse strings.

The Great BBC Plagiarism Scandal

  1. Here I show what I consider to be intentional plagiarism of facts and images from my blog by those responsible for a BBC TV programme broadcast in November 2016. The three-stage BBC complaints process was inadequate in so many ways – both process and outcome. The trusted public-service broadcaster displayed arrogance throughout as it fobbed me off with evasive and obfuscatory responses. The lessons are many – but two stand out. First, the BBC sees nothing wrong in what I allege to be its unethical conduct. Its position would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Second, the BBC can’t be trusted to deal with complaints about its journalism. Self-regulation by the BBC is no regulation.
  2. What do I mean by plagiarism? This definition from the University of Oxford website for its students is as good as any: “Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional.”
  3. The Great Military Charity Scandal” was on BBC One Scotland on 8 November 2016 at 19:00 and available on the BBC iPlayer afterwards. It was made by BBC Scotland Investigates. I haven’t written about the TV programme until now because I was following the BBC complaints process – and then that of communications watchdog Ofcom.
  4. On 28 January 2017, I wrote about the announcement by charity regulator the Charity Commission that it had opened a statutory inquiry into charity Support The Heroes (STH; registered charity number: 1155853) and appointed an interim manager. The relevant commission press release, the link for which is in that post, refers to the TV programme in its “notes to editors.”
  5. Liam McDougall was the producer of “The Great Military Charity Scandal.” He first contacted me about his programme on 8 January 2016, referring in an email to the “great work” I’ve been doing on charity fraud and abuse, particularly military charities. This is on my blog, My charity investigations have been reported in national newspapers: The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Times, The Daily Mirror and BuzzFeed (news website). Ive also twice appeared as a live studio guest on BBC Radio 5 live programme, 5 live Investigates, to discuss my findings. In 2016, influential Frank Field MP tabled two written parliamentary questions to the Work and Pensions Secretary after one of my charity exposés.
  6. My 28 January 2017 post gives the background on the commission’s actions on STH, describing the role of Tony Chadwick of Blackpool, his rip-off fundraising companies and three linked military charities, all high-profile: Afghan Heroes (AH), Our Local Heroes Foundation (OLHF), and STH. Each, separately, continues to be the subject of a live statutory inquiry by the charity regulator. FOR EACH CHARITY IN TURN, I BROKE BOTH THE LINK TO MR CHADWICK AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE, AS WELL AS FAILURES OF REGULATION.
  7. I first wrote about STH and its link to Mr Chadwick on 21 April 2015. It was my scoop. Thus the programme-makers were guided by my revelations then and thereafter.
  8. My proof of the link was critical to the programme: both Mr Chadwick and STH had actively tried to hide their working together (see blog, passim ad nauseam).
  9. As I wrote on 28 January 2017, my first post about STH, on 21 April 2015, exclusively exposed almost all the issues the commission said in January 2017 it wants its statutory inquiry to investigate.
  10. My 28 January 2017 post acknowledges the Walter Mitty Hunters Club HQ (WMHCHQ), a Facebook group, for its interest in my work on STH, and help publicising it. There I also state when the group first contacted me about the charity, thus proving I exclusively exposed STH.
  11. WMHCHQ wouldn’t have allowed or continue to allow me to present my dealings with the group as described in the 28 January 2017 post unless accurate. WMHCHQ don’t hold back, online or offline. Nor do its followers.
  12. In addition, the WMHCHQ timeline itself confirms the timeline of events for STH.
  13. Prior to the TV programme, there were three related publicly available sources for the connection between Mr Chadwick and STH. The three are in chronological order: my blog; WMHCHQ; and The Sunday Times (2 October 2016). Both WMHCHQ and the newspaper, separately, credited me as source. Yet “The Great Military Charity Scandal” failed to acknowledge me in any way. Thus the programme-makers intentionally plagiarised facts from my blog.
  14. So what about STH was new in the TV programme? Well, BBC Scotland Investigates secretly filmed STH representatives misleading the public as to how much of the £2.50 price of a prize draw ticket actually goes to the charity. The representatives were in fact working for Mr Chadwick‘s company, Targeted Management Limited (registered company number: 09036445) – a Blackpool firm incorporated in May 2014, whose activities this blog has exclusively exposed. Long-time readers of the blog won’t be surprised in the slightest by the programme’s filmed evidence. For years I’ve repeatedly written about my own and others’ experiences with Mr Chadwick‘s rip-off fundraising companies and their work for AH, OLHF and STH. My first 5 live Investigates programme in November 2014, for example, reported different people’s experiences of unsatisfactory and misleading encounters in shopping centres around the UK with OLHF representatives controlled by Mr Chadwick (see 10 November 2014 post). The OLHF representatives were flogging prize draw tickets – as were the AH representatives before them (see blog, passim ad nauseam). Mr McDougall obtained both my 5 live Investigates programmes and listened to them. I know because he told me.
  15. As well as plagiarising facts from my blog, the TV programme intentionally plagiarised images. Images only available on my blog were shown without credit or attribution. These images include, but aren’t limited to, the identifiable AH prize draw ticket, a key piece of evidence. The identifiable images were central to the programme. And the images had to be accurate and trusted for the BBC to show them on TV. Put simply, the source had to be credible. I’m the “UK’s expert,” as Mr McDougall said to me several times. It’s simply indefensible to use my images without due acknowledgement.
  16. Another indication of the importance of my images of particularly the AH prize draw ticket in “The Great Military Charity Scandal” is the fact one of them (my images of the AH prize draw ticket) appears prominently in the official 31-second trailer, too:
  17. As I say, here my focus is the intentional plagiarism of facts and images. Nevertheless there are many other matters I complained to the BBC about in relation to its TV programme. From January 2016, for example, I spent tens of hours talking on the phone and corresponding with the producer. He told me at the outset hed interview me on the programme – and repeatedly reminded me of the fact. Further, I lent him highly sensitive, original documents: I gave them to him in person in Manchester city centre in July 2016. (Mr McDougall was accompanied by the programme’s reporter, Sam Poling, that day.) He promised hed return them in person. I didn’t stipulate delivery that way: nevertheless he said he would, and as soon as possible. At 5 December 2016the date of my first formal complaint to the BBC – I still hadn’t received my original documents. I finally received them – without apology or explanation for the delay – at the end of January 2017!
  18. On 8 November 2016, I complained to Mr McDougall in an email: Do you think I’d have spent so much time talking and corresponding with you if I’d known that you weren’t in fact going to interview me, let alone credit me in any way?” He didn’t reply.
  19. I formally complained to the BBC on 5 December 2016 in an email to the Director-General, Lord Hall, because he’s Editor-in-Chief. Imagine my surprise when I received the BBC’s response to my first formal complaint: it was written by Mr McDougall! It’s self-evidently unsatisfactory for Mr McDougall to consider my complaint on behalf of the Editor-in-Chief. Further, I regarded his response to be unacceptable for several reasons.
  20. So I escalated my complaint to the BBC explicitly calling for independent consideration of my complaint for the process to be credible. I also stated disclosure of emails was essential after allegations made by Mr McDougall in his response for the BBC. So who now handled my second formal complaint for the Editor-in-Chief? The programme’s executive producer, Daniel Maxwell!
  21. Mr Maxwell failed to request any emails from me. There was no evidence in his response he’d scrutinised my blog, either. And, again, I found his response to be unacceptable for several reasons.
  22. Thus I had no option but to escalate once more my complaint to the BBC – to its nominally independent Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). There my complaint was handled throughout by BBC complaints director, Colin Tregear.
  23. Mr Tregear instigated disclosure of emails – at last.
  24. I shall now examine how each of the three BBC responses dealt with the alleged intentional plagiarism of facts and images.
  25. First, here’s what Mr McDougall said: “All of your posts are published on a public forum, and are freely accessible via an open-source search of the internet.” He added: “… It is entirely untrue for you to suggest that you somehow hold the exclusive rights to information about Tony Chadwick, Afghan Heroes, Support the Heroes or Our Local Heroes Foundation. As I say, there is much publicly available information about these organisations and indeed your posts themselves place the information in the public arena.” Astonishingly, the producer also wrote: “And surely, given that the facts have been published by you means that by definition the information is public and freely available?” And another vague statement: “Concerns had been published extensively by numerous media and social media outlets, and by the Charity Commission itself.”
  26. True, my blog is accessible to all – but use by a third party of the information published there, including images, requires credit and attribution. Otherwise it’s intentional plagiarism. Prior to the TV programme, the link between between Mr Chadwick and STH was exclusively broken by me – and then picked up in turn by WMHCHQ and The Sunday Times (see above). Both, separately, acknowledged me as source. The BBC did not.
  27. Now onto the BBC’s second response, from Mr Maxwell. He said: “On the allegation of plagiarism, it is untrue to say that our producer ‘intentionally plagiarised’ your blog. As you know, for many months the BBC was in discussion with you about the nature and content of some of the BBC investigation. The fact that we featured individuals like Tony Chadwick and the charity Support the Heroes would have been no surprise to you. In fact, our producer had discussed some of the detail we would feature in the programme with you and you were entirely happy for us to do this. That said, every piece of information contained in the programme was gathered, checked and verified beyond something simply being repeated from your blog. Everything was corroborated independently of any single source. In addition, information regarding concerns about Mr Chadwick, Afghan Heroes and Support the Heroes used in the programme was already public. Concerns had been published extensively by numerous media and social media outlets, and by the Charity Commission itself.”
  28. Note Mr Maxwell‘s vague final sentence there. Sound familiar? He copied it from Mr McDougall! (see above) As you can see, the executive producer, too, ignored the provenance of the published evidence for the link between between Mr Chadwick and STH. He also said nothing about use of images from my blog without due acknowledgement. On the alleged plagiarism, then, Mr Maxwell was as evasive and obfuscatory as Mr McDougall before him.
  29. Finally, what did Mr Tregear of the ECU say? On the intentional plagiarism of facts, he wrote: “… I understand you may have been the first person to uncover information about Tony Chadwick, his businesses, his links with military charities such as Afghan Heroes and Support The Heroes and failures of regulation. However, to the best of my knowledge, you were not the only source for the information which was included in the programme and much of the information was already in the public domain.” The BBC complaints director concluded: “… I appreciate why you say you should have been credited in the programme and I can understand why you are annoyed that didn’t happen. However, I cannot agree there was intentional plagiarism of your work bearing in mind much of what you had written had been repeated elsewhere in the media and in official reports.”
  30. On the intentional plagiarism of images, meanwhile, Mr Tregear stated: “… The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines include guidance on the use of pictures from social media and third party websites [9]. It recognises that material which has been put in the public domain via publication on a website or social media may be re-used but programme-makers should consider the original intention in publication and the impact of any re-use. The guidance says ‘A picture available without meaningful restrictions on a website may be considered to be in the public domain and the media may consider that it has the right to exploit it – but that does not always make it the right thing to do.‘ In this case, I think the manner in which the images were re-used matched the original use, namely illustrating the activities of military charities, and there were no particular privacy issues arising from their use. I therefore cannot see how the use led to a breach of the BBC’s editorial standards.”
  31. Thus the BBC complaints director dismissed my allegations of intentional plagiarism. He finished: “…This will be the BBC’s final finding on your complaint unless there are reasons to modify or amend it in light of any comments you may wish to make.” So I duly sent comments as I was not satisfied with his rationale for dismissing my allegations of intentional plagiarism.
  32. The chronology, I pointed out, is critical: how and when did facts become first uncovered and reported? It’s self-evidently unacceptable to not credit me for breaking the relevant stories, particularly the link between Mr Chadwick and STH. On the intentional plagiarism of images, meanwhile, I said his response would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Privacy isn’t relevant here. It’s simply indefensible, I repeated, to use my images without due acknowledgement.
  33. In his reply, Mr Tregear said he saw no reason to amend his decision. In particular, he stated: “I agree it would have been courteous to acknowledge your role [in breaking the link between Mr Chadwick and STH] but as I said in my letter of 18 July there is nothing in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines which says sources of information have to be given public credit; the requirement is to ensure material is checked and verified.”
  34. Because I was so dissatisfied with the BBC’s final decision, I still wrote back. There I also brought to Mr Tregear‘s attention the fact he’d referred in his last letter to Save The Heroes” (sic), not STH. There was no response, no correction.
  35. Having exhausted the BBC’s complaints process, I submitted a complaint about the alleged intentional plagiarism to communications regulator Ofcom, which now regulates the BBC, too. Unfortunately, it said in a letter my complaint failed to “engage any rules in the Code [Ofcom Broadcasting Code] and is therefore out of our remit”.
  36. My experience with the BBC should be a warning to any individual or organisation that undertakes and publishes original investigations. According to its complaints director, the BBC could use facts you’re the first to uncover and report – but without crediting you in any way. It could without due acknowledgement use images you exclusively publish, too.
  37. Then there’s something else: BBC Scotland Investigates, remember, made the TV programme. Plagiarism is self-evidently unacceptable and unethical. It’s even worse when the journalism styles itself as investigative.
  38. Never mind “The Great Military Charity Scandal.” This is surely The Great BBC Plagiarism Scandal.

Menopause Matters secretly promotes advertisers on Twitter

  1. Menopause Matters, a trusted source of information for both women experiencing the menopause, and healthcare professionals (HCPs), secretly promotes advertisers on Twitter. Here I show two examples.
  2. Managing director Dr Heather Currie, a high-profile gynaecologist and obstetrician, founded multi award-winning Menopause Matters (MM) as a website. She was chair of the British Menopause Society (BMS), the influential menopause charity, in 2016-17; and continues to be a trustee (see 17 July 2017 post).

    Figure 1. Menopause Matters homepage at 16 September 2017

  3. MM bills itself as independent. Nevertheless its website carries loads of ads for menopause-related products and services (screen shot in Figure 1), proclaiming at the foot of each page: “Adverts on this website are not endorsed by Menopause Matters.” There’s also a shop on the website, and another statement MM doesn’t endorse any of the products and services advertised there. At date of publication there are 21 – yes, 21 – advertisers in the shop, including Hyalofemme, a vaginal moisturiser, and Physicool’s cooling spray for hot flushes (screen shot in Figure 2).

    Figure 2. Menopause Matters shop at 4 December 2017

  4. MM isn’t just a website. It publishes a quarterly magazine of the same name, similarly chock-full of ads. The latest, for winter 2017, is the 50th issue. There’s an active presence on social media, too, including Twitter (@menomatters). On 14 September 2017, MM tweeted about so-called EveryWoman Day on that date (screen shot in Figure 3), without disclosing the UK distributor of Hyalofemme – and MM advertiser – was behind it. While a month later (18 October 2017), MM retweeted a tweet from Physicool linking to its blog post supposedly about menopause-related anxiety (screen shot in Figure 4). Again, MM failed to say Physicool is an advertiser.

    Figure 3. Menopause Matters tweets about EveryWoman Day on 14 September 2017

    Figure 4. Menopause Matters retweets Physicool tweet on 18 October 2017

  5. Purple Orchid Pharma Limited, the UK distributor of Hyalofemme, is responsible for so-called EveryWoman Day. This year EveryWoman Day was “raising awareness” of vaginal dryness, funnily enough – and so Hyalofemme too (screen shot in Figure 5). And who should appear on the EveryWoman Day website on 14 September 2017 writing about vaginal dryness and vaginal moisturisers – Dr Currie (screen shot in Figure 6). She didn’t actually name Hyalofemme, though. That day, meanwhile, she was also quoted on the Purple Orchid Pharma website, where it waffled about EveryWoman Day and “highly effective” Hyalofemme (Figure 5). Therefore EveryWoman Day was little more than a marketing campaign for Hyalofemme. So why was the MM founder and managing director directly involved in such a misleading promotion? And why did “independent” MM tweet about EveryWoman Day, without revealing the UK distributor of Hyalofemme – and MM advertiser – was actually responsible for the campaign?

    Figure 5. EveryWoman Day “raising awareness” of vaginal dryness and vaginal moisturiser Hyalofemme at 16 September 2017

    Figure 6. Dr Heather Currie writes about vaginal dryness and vaginal moisturisers for EveryWoman Day at 16 September 2017

  6. EveryWoman Day in September 2017 wasn’t the first time Dr Currie publicly linked herself to Hyalofemme or its UK distributor. In 2011, for example, she commented explicitly about the vaginal moisturiser after it became available on prescription, according to The Hysterectomy Association website (screen shot in Figure 7).

    Figure 7. Dr Heather Currie quoted in 2011 on vaginal moisturiser Hyalofemme at 16 September 2017

  7. On 18 October 2017, MM retweeted a tweet from Physicool linking to its blog post supposedly about menopause-related anxiety (screen shot in Figure 8). The final paragraph of the anonymous post crowbarred in a plug for its spray: “If you are currently struggling with anxiety, attempting to ease other symptoms of menopause that you are experiencing, will make it easier to deal with. Our cooling spray is perfect for easing any hot flushes that you could be experiencing, helping you to get a better nights (sic) sleep. If you’re looking for more information on menopause and how to cope with it, check out our blog here for more information.”

    Figure 8. Physicool blog post supposedly about menopause-related anxiety at 20 October 2017

  8. It’s unclear why any woman experiencing the menopause, or HCP, should listen to Physicool on menopause-related anxiety. What exactly are its credentials to offer mental health advice, when it flogs a cooling spray? More seriously still, why did MM retweet the company’s tweet on this subject? And, of course, why did MM omit to mention Physicool is an advertiser?
  9. MM also accepts funding from pharmaceutical companies. For 2016, it declares funding from three drug firms: Bayer, Meda and Mylan (screen shot in Figure 9). MM hides the relevant amounts, though, which is obviously against the public interest. Previously, I exposed Mylan’s demonstrable track record in the UK of questionable, sometimes dishonest, practices in both its marketing of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to the public and its closeness to the menopause charities (see 17 July 2017 and 10 October 2017 posts). Those exposés were reported by The Sunday Times (see 31 July 2017 post) and Private Eye (see 3 November 2017 post). (HRT is the main treatment for menopause.) Thus funding from Mylan is a concern, whatever the amount.

    Figure 9. Menopause Matters sponsors at 4 December 2017

  10. MM, as I say, is a trusted source of information for both women experiencing the menopause, and HCPs. The official NHS Choices website, for example, lists MM as one of its “useful links” (screen shot in Figure 10). While Dr Currie, immediate past chair of BMS, is often quoted in the national media on menopause. For instance, she featured prominently in BBC Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark’s high-profile BBC TV documentary earlier this year, “Kirsty Wark: The Menopause and Me”. Its website explicitly states MM doesn’t endorse the many, many menopause-related products and services advertised there, which is a good thing, if true. It engenders public trust and confidence in its pronouncements and activities. Thus it’s particularly disappointing MM secretly promotes advertisers on Twitter. Self-styled independent MM isn’t independent at all.

    Figure 10. Menopause Matters on NHS Choices at 4 December 2017

  11. I sought a response from Dr Currie, who said in an email: “Regarding the issues raised, I am confident that the Social Media statement in our Disclaimer and Privacy section covers the questions raised and that there will be no further need for any email discussion” (screen shot in Figure 11). I disagreed, challenging her reply for two reasons. First, the social media statement to which she referred is new. How do I know? The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine shows that, previously, the social media statement wasn’t on the MM Disclaimer & Privacy page (see the page at 11 July 2017, for example: Similarly, on 5 December 2017, MM suddenly and without explanation tweeted a “disclaimer” about its retweets (screen shot in Figure 12). This was the day after I first emailed Dr Currie for comment. Second, the social media statement clearly fails to address all the issues, despite what she said. At date of publication I’ve received no further response from the MM founder and managing director.

    Figure 11. Social media statement on Menopause Matters Disclaimer & Privacy page at 11 December 2017

    Figure 12. Menopause Matters “disclaimer” tweet on 5 December 2017

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: Here too is a scanned copy of the page for those like me outside the paywall: The Sunday Times 30 July 2017.