“Crown representatives” are directors of other companies and Tory donors

“Labour has warned that the crown representatives who are supposed to police public sector suppliers such as the failed construction company Carillion face potential conflicts of interest, as its own research showed that several hold external directorships and one was a Tory donor.

A dossier produced by the party showed that the former admiral Sir Robert Walmsley, who is responsible to the taxpayer for monitoring the outsourcing multinational Serco, also sits on the board as senior independent director of two defence contractors, Ultra Electronics and Cohort plc.

Daniel Green, the crown representative for the energy sector, is a Conservative donor who has given £330,000 to the party and £15,000 to Theresa May’s successful leadership campaign in 2016. His profile on the LinkedIn network says he is the chief executive of a private equity firm, Liquid Business.

Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said such relationships amounted to “an astonishing conflict of interest and yet other example of the chumocracy”. Some of the crown representatives, he added “turn out to be people who actually work for companies that have contracts with the government”.

The crown representative system was introduced under the coalition in 2011. They are supposed to work across government on a part-time basis to act as a focal point for key companies or groups of companies who supply the public sector. When a company is in trouble, or deemed high risk, a crown representative is supposed to work with that company to develop an improvement plan.

The system has come into acute focus after Carillion’s liquidation. Julie Scattergood, the crown representative responsible for Carillion, retired last summer and was not replaced until autumn – by then the company had delivered profit warnings in July and September.

Sean Collins, the crown representative for Vodafone and the telecoms infrastructure provider Arqiva, is a non-executive director at JT Group, providing telecoms expertise in the Channel Islands. William Priest, the representative for technology services companies IBM and DXC, is a non-executive director at Connexin, a wireless broadband company.

Carillion collapsed a week ago leaving 28,000 staff facing uncertain futures as the government and private sector companies scrambled to take on its contracts. It had a £900m deficit in its pension fund at the time of collapse and it is unclear if employee pensions can be paid out in full.

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, said on Sunday that the government did not know how much the closure would cost the taxpayer. When Truss was asked on ITV’s Peston on Sunday if it would cost “hundreds of millions”, she said: “Well, it will be a significant amount of money, it’s been a serious issue.”

A government white paper designed to give regulators greater powers to block or place conditions on takeovers that are deemed to put pension schemes at risk is also being drawn up for publication in March.

The Cabinet Office did not respond to a request for comment.”


Is it ok for ex-Ministers to work for Chinese? They think so

“The Mail on Sunday leads with what it calls the “political storm” caused by the secret filming of three ex-Tory ministers by Channel Four’s Dispatches programme.

An undercover reporter posed as a representative of Chinese millionaires, offering to pay for advice from Andrew Lansley, Andrew Mitchell, and Peter Lilley about how to make money from Brexit.

All three have denied any wrongdoing, with Mr Lilley calling it “a tawdry attempt at entrapment.”

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, ex-chief whip Andrew Mitchell has strenuously denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of “attempted entrapment” and is “totally innocent”, and that it is not against parliamentary rules for an MP to have a second job.”



Owl says: due diligence (lack of) and “chumocracy” – we know a LOT about that in East Devon!

“More than a week after Toby Young quit from the Office for Student Regulator, it has emerged that ministers turned down three other ‘appointable’ candidates in order to give the provocateur-journo his post. Labour MP Kevin Brennan, who got the facts in a Parliamentary answer, accuses ministers of ‘jiggery-pokery’.

Tory MP Robert Halfon said the appointment of Young “smacks of the elite” and was the “chumocracy at work”. There are concerns over the due diligence failures in the case and how more ‘suitable’ candidates were overlooked. It’s unclear when Young’s replacement will be chosen.”

Source: Huffington Post, “The Waugh Zone” online

Is it the Conservatives we are supposed to trust with business?

“[John Manzoni the civil service chief executive]said [to the Public Accounts Committee] that it was not until November that officials “really started to notice” the problems at Carillion, whose chairman, Philip Green, is an adviser to the prime minister on corporate responsibility.

Between July and November, Carillion issued three major profits warnings and its shares crashed by 91%.”


How much more sleazy can the Carillion privatisation mess get?h

This is from the Daily Mail “This is Money” on 12 September 2017:

“Troubled engineer Carillion introduced tougher rules that protect bonuses paid to bosses – just months before it was embroiled in an accounting crisis that wiped £600million off its shares.

The firm changed the wording of its pay policy to make it harder for investors to claw back bonuses paid to executives in the event it ran into financial difficulty.

In recent days Carillion has been under pressure from investors to recoup some of the millions of pounds in bonuses paid to former chief executive Richard Howson and ex-finance chief Richard Adam when they were in charge.
A probe by the Mail has found that previously bosses could have been forced to hand back their annual bonus and share awards in ‘circumstances of corporate failure’.

But in the group’s 2016 annual report this wording was tightened.
It says deferred bonuses may be reduced in circumstances of corporate failure but goes on to say the so-called ‘malus’ and ‘clawback’ provisions can be applied in two circumstances: if results have been misstated or the participant is guilty of gross misconduct.

The changes to clawback rules, if interpreted as being a higher bar, could save bosses millions.

Howson, 49, stepped down from his role as chief executive on the day of the disastrous trading update. He had been in the post since 2009.

He is still with the company as chief operating officer but is due to leave next year. He has made £1.9 million in cash and share bonuses during his tenure, only not getting an award in 2012, according to Mail calculations.
Last year he pocketed a £245,000 bonus in cash and shares as well as a £346,000 long-term incentive award.

Adam, 59, has had up to £2.6million in extra cash and shares since starting in 2006, according to Mail calculations.

Last year he was handed a bonus of £140,000 and long-term incentive awards worth £278,000.

After leaving Carillion in December 2016, he faced a revolt from shareholders at First Group when he joined the transport company’s board. More than a fifth opposed his appointment.

Carillion is still one of the most shorted stocks on the market, suggesting investors are expecting worse to come. But shares closed up 3.7 per cent yesterday, or 1.6p, at 44.76p.

The company declined to comment.”


A new East Devon Business Forum?

And just how will EDDC decide who are the top 50 employers? Turnover, number of employees, closeness to Woodbury or Otterton? Or big developers? Businesses submitting the most planning applications or biggest landholders? Or might it be social responsibility – lol? Environmental credentials – lol? Employee stakeholders – lol?

And how will they treat these “top 50 compared to the bottom several thousand?

Shades of the discredited, run by disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown, East Devon Business Forum? And, here it comes again – scrutiny … conflicts of interest …

Owl ruffles its feathers …

“For the many or the few” to quote someone-or-other!

“Develop more effective business engagement though:

1) Publishing quarterly business bulletins and increasing SME readership;

2) Identifying and establishing communication with up to 6 Key Ambassador businesses in East Devon

3) developing and maintaining a contact list of our top 50 employers;

4) Identifying and making contact with businesses comprising our 4 GESP priority sectors (Smart Logistics, Data Analytics, Knowledge Based Industries and Environmental Futures).


Businesses can now pay EDDC for “consultancy” for fast-track food hygeine certificates

Another conflict of interest? Gamekeeper AND poacher?

“Our commercial premises team will explore the feasibility of offering a range of business advice and support services to local businesses. We will offer an enhanced food hygiene registration scheme to those businesses who would like consultancy time specifically dedicated to helping them improve their regulatory compliance generally and their food hygiene rating score in particular. We will market support package options (to include training, coaching and auditing) to newly registered businesses this year.”