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More Deben

Commenters on the Severn Barrage thread have been doing some very interesting work on Lord Deben's financial interests. Although the great man has apparently indicated that he will take unspecified steps to ensure that his financial interests do not impinge upon his work as chairman of the Climate Change Committee, the sheer scale of those interests starts to look, well, extraordinary.

First off, Terry S noted the various shareholdings of Corlan Hafren, the company that is to build the Severn Barrage.

Shareholdings of Corlan Hafren:

There are 8704 shares comprising of 8700 non-voting shares and 4 voting shares.

3400 + 1 John Richard Forbes Bazley
2200 + 1 Halcrow Group Limited
1100 + 1 Sancroft International Limited
2000 + 1 Joseph Hannah & Nicholas MacMillan

I've no idea who they are but it appears that Lord Deben doesn't have any shares.

Fortunately, it was quickly spotted that Sancroft International is a company owned by Lord Deben and his family. SimonCM replied:

The old pea and thimble trick .... The erstwhile Lord is a director, and 1/6th shareholder of Sancroft International Limited. The other shareholders are all Gummers (i.e. Lord Deben's family including wife, son and three not easily identifiable through Google).

Therefore, by my maths, Lord Deben owns 2% of Corlan Hafren and the Gummers as a collective own about 12%. Not bad when you're proposing a £30bn project!

(Note that I haven't checked the figures above). Let's say, conservatively, that if it gets the go-ahead, this £30bn construction project is worth £32bn. With a £2bn profit, as 12% stake would be worth £240m. Of course, without the go-ahead it's worth nothing.

Decisions, decisions for the Selwyn-Gummer family.

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Reader Comments (63)

Shareholdings of Sancroft International Limited

There are 612 ordinary shares

102 Benedict Michael Gummer
102 Cordelia Charlotte Angelica Gummer
102 Penelope Jane Deben
102 Felix John Gummer
102 Leonora Cicely Gummer
102 John Selwyn Deben

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Ha, crowdsleuthing at its best.

It's obvious surely that Lord Deben is the wrong choice for chairman of the Climate Change Committee. It's not possible to divest completely and credibly, especially given the family interest. You pays your money and takes your choice - and he's already done so.

What happens at the governance level should be a formality.

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

This level of corruption in British politics is obscene.

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

Is one of those names the infamous burger-snaffler? Payoff!

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

Checked my own question. Cordelia is the one.

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

Has anything remotely similar happened in the past?

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

[Snip - venting]

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

THIS is disgraceful. So he is not on the board and thinks that this means he has no conflict of interest.

This guy should be ashamed of himself.

Aug 20, 2012 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

[Snip - venting]

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndyS

Has anything remotely similar happened in the past?

"Controversial" late '50s Transport Minister Ernest Marples of Marples-Ridgway, who was so keen on closing railways and building Motorways instead, springs to mind. Mind you, you can at least get from A to B on the motoroways, unlike wind power, where you can only get to Hell in a handbasket.

I did hear hair-raising stories about land speculation in Greenwich in the run-up to the launching of the Millenium Dome project but they could be rumour. And, of course, there's Labourites aplenty with snouts in the wind-power trough, inc Lord George Robertson and former Grauniad exec Paul Myners, who later did so well as the Fiend from Fife's "Financial Services Secretary" at a time IIRC when the lifetime of ROCs was extended to 2035. (Myners later found himself in hot water over his touching loyalty to Formerly-Sir Fred "The Shred" Goodwin over the tricky matter of the chap's pension. Quite right too - the chap had school fees to pay.)

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Deben: “Chairman, Association of Independent Financial Advisers; Chairman, Forewind Ltd; Chairman, Sancroft International Ltd; Chairman, Valpak Ltd; Chairman, Veolia UK. Non-executive Director, Castle Trust Capital Ltd; Non-executive Director, Catholic Herald; Non-executive Director, Veolia Voda.”

Forewind Ltd: Four leading energy companies committed to the UK wind industry and to gaining consent for Dogger Bank, potentially the world’s biggest wind farm.

Sancroft: From water, energy and waste to carbon offsets, renewables and cleantech………….. Climate change will be the most disruptive influence on business. The risks it poses are immense; the potential rewards considerable.

Valpak Ltd: Valpak is the UK's leading provider of environmental compliance and consultancy, recycling solutions and carbon and energy services.

VeoliaUK: Veolia Environmental Services is the UK's leading recycling and waste management company. …..Waste Management; Water; Energy; Transport .

Veoilia Voda: Veolia Water UK Plc and Veolia Voda SA, both belonging to VE Group, provide water and wastewater management services respectively in the UK and Ireland and in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Catholic Herald doesn’t seem to be a problem, and Castle Trust Capital , well, who knows…..but otherwise, the whole of the environment industry nicely taken care of ….

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Ancient Barsoomian proverb: "Where bug is, bugs are." It's time to flip all the rocks over and see what crawls out. Multiple investigations will be ordered. All parties will be exonerated as many times as it takes to establish their innocence to the full satisfaction of the BBC and the Grauniad.

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

"John Selwyn Deben"

That's odd. Has he changed his surname to Deben ?

Someone commented in a previous thread that Life Peers normally use their surname for their title. Gummer didn't, unless Deben is now his surname. His brother is also a Life peer, Lord Chadlington, so no risk of confusing two Lord Gummers.

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterCassio

Gummer didn't exactly cover himself in glory over MP's expenses. To quote from one newspaper:

"Mr Gummer claimed close to the maximum Additional Costs Allowance every year – but leaked correspondence from the Commons Fees Office published last night show he was less than meticulous in submitting receipts to support his expenses claims."

If he has any integrity, he would stand down from the chairmanship of the CCC given the extent of his massive conflict of interest.

One would think Cameroon would have learned his lesson over picking "wrong-uns".

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterTC

Leo Hickman has been getting pertinent comment from Lord Deben himself and tweets:

Dunno, but he says [his family] no longer holds [shares in Sancroft], which I think is significant point, no? Can't profit if given go-ahead

It's still not good enough. He has close friends in a company standing to make a killing if the project is given the go-ahead. And he's made his ideological commitment clear on the subject for many years. He may be a man of the greatest integrity, whose investments follow his genuine beliefs, not the other way round, but he cannot bring the needed level of independence to this role.

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

So what does Gummer bring to the companies he 'Directs'? His Wiki page says that he studied History at Cambridge so I'm guessing that he isn't exactly flush with business acumen.
People of his background only sit on the board of these type of business due to the fact that they have political contacts and can make things happen.

[Snip - venting]

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterScooper

Shouldn't this be reported directly to the HoC Standards and Privileges Committee?

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

[Snip - funny but venting]

Aug 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

[Snip - funny but venting]

Aug 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

If Sancroft has transferred the shares then Corlan Hafren has not registered the share transfer.
I think (but I'm not a 100% sure) that transfers have to be registered within 30 days so it will be interesting to see when the transfer appears in Companies House

Aug 20, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

You can be sure that whatever the rules are, characters like this will have a team of advisors making certain that they obey the precise letter of them while continuing to benefit hansomely.
If nothing else, their mates who run the companies which do benefit will have a nice grossly overpaid non job for them when they leave politics.

Aug 20, 2012 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Leo Hickman seems to be tipping a lot of winks on this subject, but is he raising it to any extent in the journals he's paid to write for?

Aug 20, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Cumbrian Lad

Leo seems to be satisfied with Deben's assurances that he has no conflict of interest.

Aug 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

May I say I find some comments pointlessly insulting, sounding more like the usual low-level anti-politicians populism than anything worthy of appearing on this or any other website.

If Deben has or hasn't a case to answer, it all depends on established practice, not on his or anybody else's nobility of the soul. What has happened in the past wrt relatives and close friends? Have other figures transitioned from profiting in a field to advising Government for more profits to be made in the same field? Etc etc.

If I were a journalist I would investigate and explain that, rather than do a copy-paste of inane DECC statements.

Aug 20, 2012 at 7:26 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

There is also a company called Selwyn Sancroft International, which has various Selwyn Gummers on the board. I wonder what they do?

Aug 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"One would think Cameroon would have learned his lesson over picking "wrong-uns"."

Aug 20, 2012 at 5:35 PM | TC

Yes, I've been apalled right from the start of his leadership that Cam0ron seems to surround himself with some fairly dodgey individuals - in fact, a true Heir to Blair.

Aug 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

Sancroft Consultants as of 20/08/2012
Perhaps Lord Deben ought to inform the company that he no longer has any ongoing connection but perhaps he has done enough by moving his families share portfolio for one day.

Register of Interests

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc.
Articles in: Catholic Herald, Country Life, Estates Gazette, High Life, Planning, Evening Standard. I also chair conferences. The subjects in both cases are usually property, sustainable development and religious issues. The commitments arise largely from my previous profession of journalism and all payments go to Sancroft which provides research staff, information services, and all other facilities. Currently Sancroft would expect about £60,000 in payments, in respect of which I would receive some £20,000 in fees and dividends.

Lord Deben founded Sancroft in 1997, the company has received his income from articles and conferences, providing research assistants etc as required and his immediate family, probably, receive dividends as shareholders.

He is still listed as a consultant today which means the decision to have no ongoing connection will have been recent and that he specifically says 'and me' which may indicate that his family, who supposedly have shares (excellent way of reducing tax liabilities), may not have given up their connections (if they understand their involvement).

Aug 20, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Deben sponsored EDM in '07 calling for Severn Barrage

EDM = Early Day Motion

No comment

Aug 20, 2012 at 9:36 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

"Leo seems to be satisfied with Deben's assurances that he has no conflict of interest."

Here in the States, a person's assurance that he has no conflict of interest is worth not one cent. Is it worth something in England? Is it effective in avoiding or stopping investigations?

Aug 20, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Corlan Hafren was formed two years ago and it's last accounts were made up to 31/12/2011 at which point the company was classified as dormant (no financial activity). The only funds the company holds are shareholder funds of £91. It has no assets.

Suddenly this company consortium is in the running for a £34 billion project.

Lord Deben, meanwhile, claims he "stood down" from the board two months ago (June) and yet nothing appears in Companies House even though they should have been notified. He also claims that Sancroft no longer has shares in Corlen Hafren although, once again, companies house has not been notified.

Given that any value in the shares of Corlen Hafren is only there because of the £34 billion project they are trying for, I wonder how much (if anything) Sancroft got for their 1100+1 shares?

Aug 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The corruption at the base of the climate consensus basically makes corruption in the manisfestations of the cliamte consensus inevitable.
How extreme will this social dysfunction become?
The outlook is not good.

Aug 20, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

When did the UK turn into Botswana?

Aug 20, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred

Fred: "When did the UK turn into Botswana?" It's because our criminals decided that to avoid having to flee to Botswana, they would create the same conditions at home!

Aug 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

If you are even so much as a humble Parish Coucillor, the law requires you to publish details of your own *and* your spouse's/partner's financial interests. But there are those who are above the laws that apply to the little people.

Aug 20, 2012 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterVftS

I know that there are and probably always ill be some 'conflicts of interest ' in decisions by politicians/ their paymasters and the public but even an eternal pessimist like me finds this financial mess up unconscionable !

Aug 20, 2012 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

He was 5th worst claimant for parliamentary expenses and had to repay some £29,000, including recruitment costs for his own company, which he had charged to the taxpayer.

The current MD of Sancroft is Adrian Gahan, former Energy and Climate Change Policy Advisor to the Conservative Party, who is described as a key player in the passage of the Climate Change Act

Lord Deben is Chairman of the Association of Independent Financial Advisors and a non-executive director of Castle Trust Capital Ltd. Its business model involves a complex scheme betting on future house price rises and is an offshore company based in Jersey. (As far as I am aware, comedian Jimmy Carr is not involved with this one).

"Castle Trust is a new firm but has some pedigree in the boardroom. As chairman, former FSA chair Sir Callum McCarthy sits above a management team that includes John Gummer, chairman of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, and Dame Deirdre Hutton, a director of HM Treasury and former deputy chair of the FSA. When you invest in Castle Trust's House via your Isa you actually buy shares in a Jersey company called Castle Trust PCC. Castle Trust then buys the shares back from you at the end of the term. This gives you a return based on the change in the Halifax House Price Index."

In December 2005 David Cameron appointed him Chairman of the Quality of Life Commission. The Quality of Life report, "Blueprint for a Green Economy", was launched in September 2007. He is a board member of Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation,

He was at Rio+20, as President of Globe International.

Aug 21, 2012 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennis A

Who is going to put up the £30 odd billion?

It is rumoured EU glove puppets, Greenpeace Dave and Bilderberger George are 'on board'.

Green Tory boys, they like it, because most of the construction funding will be provided via 'private capital' - middle East funding - Qatari and Saudi 'investment' funds but there's a catch, they want guarantees of upwards + £140/MWhour, or equal to the subsidies for wind generated power/new nuclear, thus equals - the taxpayer [consumer] still gets shafted.

Imho, the whole idea is sheer idiocy - a very grandiose vanity project, unless a lagoon is created behind the barrage and that is not good for the wading fowl, environment and aesthetic landscape/seascape lovers, I hope the project is 'damned' forever.

Coal and gas will do.

Aug 21, 2012 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

AlecM some of our Criminals who also happened to be Tory Party Doners also fled to Cyprus.

Aug 21, 2012 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

TerryS and others, nice crowd-sleuthing.

Corlan Hafren was formed two years ago and it's last accounts were made up to 31/12/2011 at which point the company was classified as dormant (no financial activity). The only funds the company holds are shareholder funds of £91. It has no assets.

Suddenly this company consortium is in the running for a £34 billion project.

And yet the BBC uncritically report that this 91-pound 'consortium's' £34 billion project "would not need a single penny of taxpayer's money."

This is a screaming bloody scam that may directly or indirectly impact the savings and retirement benefits of possibly millions of people, but the BBC goes on to discuss the potential impact of the project on birds and bees.

Aug 21, 2012 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

I keep wanting to quote Edward Lear when I read about these type of stories.

Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

Aug 21, 2012 at 1:24 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

BTW, how will this project be affected by the 'catastrophic' rise in sea levels we expect in 20, 50 and 100 years?

Aug 21, 2012 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Good point sHx. They will have to engineer int he expected sea level rise somehow. Hmm? That'll be another 20 billion please.

Aug 21, 2012 at 2:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

After carefully considering my many interests, I have determined that I am no more conflicted than my honourable colleague, Lord Gnome. I can therefore unreservedly recommend that my family and friends become inordinately wealthy as soon as possible, thereby diminishing world wide temperatures imperceptibly. I should also add that I welcome the findings of the independent inquiry chaired by Lord Oxburgh which has confirmed the propriety of my actions and character in a matter of several tens of minutes, without once having to suffer the indignity of a meal in Norwich.

Aug 21, 2012 at 4:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Aug 20, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Fred

I think you are doing Botswana an injustice. By no means perfect but well above the African average in most respects. Equatorial Guinea might be a better comparator.

Aug 20, 2012 at 11:13 PM | VftS

Absolutely spot on. Even at Unitary Authority level, any Councillor with even the remotest 'interest' in anything has to silently leave the debating chamber. (I'm not suggesting that there are no dodgy 'uns who unaccountably 'forget'!).

When I was first a Councillor, it was thought generally acceptable to remind Members (and to point out to any members of the public) who your employer was, or where you lived, or what position your spouse had, before making your point. If the interest you had was clearly financial then certainly you should withdraw. But they changed the rules in the late '90s so that you couldn't even make a point of information which would assist debate, to the extent that if you really knew what you were talking about, you weren't allowed to talk!

As you say, that's just for little people. They are so much more grown-up at Westminster and even the most flagrant conflicts of interest are just smiled and winked about.

Aug 21, 2012 at 7:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

A politician making financial gain form his position, say it ain't so?

The problem you have is to clear this sort of behaviour out of West Minister you'd have to clone Guy Fawkes and give him another go.

Aug 21, 2012 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

"He may be a man of the greatest integrity.."

And my pig-pen is under consideration for the Third Runway...

Aug 21, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Theo Goodwin says:
"Here in the States, a person's assurance that he has no conflict of interest is worth not one cent. Is it worth something in England? Is it effective in avoiding or stopping investigations?"

Yes it is if you are a member of the climatocracy.

Aug 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell


"pointlessly insulting"

If you'd had to endure his fake piety and nauseous posturing over the years, you wouldn't think it was pointless!

Aug 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

What an amazing coincidence. These have just appeared in Companies House:


Aug 21, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

To appoint one chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee with a conflict of interest might be an accident. But to appoint two is pure carelessness.

Aug 21, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

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