Tag Archives: Lord Hill

EU nominee to dump shares after Scrapbook highlights lobbying links

Lord Hill: shambles

David Cameron’s nominee for the European Commission has been forced to announce the sale of his £375,000 shares in a lobbying group — just hours after Scrapbook highlighted a serious conflict of interest.

We published details of the Brussels-based EU lobbying operations of Huntsworth Plc — in which Lord Hill has a stake having sold his own public affairs business to them in 2006 — at around 2pm yesterday afternoon. At 10pm the Press Association reported:

David Cameron’s nomination of Lord Hill to represent Britain on the EU commission has been branded a “shambles” after he had to sell shares in a lobbying firm to avoid criticism over conflicts of interest.

The peer is acting to head off concerns over his significant holding in £140 million global public affairs company Huntsworth, which operates in Brussels.

With journalists briefed that the government wants to secure a finance-related position for Hill, companies listed as clients of the Huntsworth group underscore the utterly unsustainable nature of his shareholding:

  • Experian
  • Financial Reporting Council
  • Oil & Gas UK
  • Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
  • City of London Corporation
  • HSBC Bank
  • Capital One Bank
  • Investec Bank
  • La Salle Investments
  • SCM Private
  • Yorkshire Building Society

Forcing a top Tory peer to offload hundreds of thousands of pounds of shares in unfavourable market conditions (Huntsworth stock is down 40% since April) … it’s all part of the service.

Cameron’s commission candidate owns shares in EU lobbying firms

Lord Hill

In what could be the Tories’ second high profile appointments cock-up this week, it turns out that David Cameron’s nominee for the UK’s next European commissioner owns shares in multiple EU lobbying firms.

Before leading the House of Lords, Lord (Jonathan) Hill had an extremely lucrative career as a lobbyist, co-founding the public affairs outfit Quiller. He now has a stake in at least two similar companies which have a direct office presence in Brussels.

Records obtained by Scrapbook show that Hill owned 50% of Quiller before it was sold to Huntsworth Plc for £5.9m in autumn 2006 — presumably in a mixture of cash and shares, the latter of which appear on Hill’s entry in the Register of Lords’ Interests. Hill consequently has an interest in Huntsworth’s massive network of communications businesses — including Grayling and Citigate, which boast offices “in the heart of Brussels’ EU quarter”.

Lord Hill register of Lords' interests

Quiller have already been in hot water over their clients’ regular access to Conservative ministers –having employed one of George Osborne’s pals in a leadership role at the company. As a peer, Hill even intervened to support the sell-off of school playing fields to Tescoone of Quiller’s clients.

So how is it in any way sustainable for the UK’s Commission nominee to be making money from companies which lobby the Commission?

£300,000 Tory donor given peerage and ministerial job

House of Lords

A private equity tycoon linked to £300,000 in donations to the Conservative Party has been given a peerage and a job in government. John Nash is the new education minister, replacing Lord Hill — the peer who tried (and ineptly failed) to resign from the government but has now finds himself the Tories’ leader in the Other Place.

Pre-empting the cash-for-jobs headlines, the Tories have attempted to parry criticism with a briefing on Nash donations to the Speccie’s James Forsyth:

“I suspect that there’ll be a media squall over the fact that Nash and his wife have donated £300,000 to the Tories over the years. But the fact that Andrew Adonis involved him in the academies programme and that Pimlico was turned around in record time shows that he’s qualified for the job and more than just a deep-pocketed donor.”

But even the peerage is dwarfed by the government contracts and favourable legislation thrown in the direction of companies in which Nash has an interest. In May 2011, a company part-owned by Nash secured a £69m contract awarded by Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP for the Work Programme.

Perhaps his most controversial transaction came as chairman of Care UK, one of the largest private healthcare firms in the country and which will trouser tens of millions of pounds thanks to Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act. Nash donated £21,000 to Lansley six months before the general election when he was a shoo-in for health secretary.

Nash isn’t even the first Tory donor to be given a government job this week — £276,000 man Dolar Popat finds himself a minister at BIS.

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