Last September the Daily Mirror revealed some interesting facts about Tory party funding – specifically linked to Circle, ‘Europe’s largest [private] healthcare partnership’, which has taken over Hinchingbrooke hospital.
As so often in these cases, the links were far from transparent.
According to the Mirror
‘Circle’s leading shareholders are Lansdowne Partners, Invesco Perpetual, BlueCrest and Odey Asset Management.
Lansdowne Partners holds a 29% stake, Invesco Perpetual 21.9%, Odey Asset Management 21.1% and BlueCrest Capital 7.1%.
The boss of Lansdowne Partners, Sir Paul Ruddock, donated £630,000 to the Tory party.
The Chief Executive Officer of Odey Asset Management Crispin Odey has given £242,000, Sir Martyn Arbib of Invesco Perpetual £413,000 and BlueCrest founder Michael Platt £125,000.
The companies said there was no link between the donations to the Tories – made privately by individuals and not by the firms – and each company’s business investments.’
Andy Burnham commented at the time on the relationship between profit-making private health companies and the Government.
“The Great NHS Carve-Up is well under way and it probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that friends of the Tory Party are doing very nicely out of it. But, even so, people will be taken aback by the sheer extent and intimacy of the links between Circle Health and the Conservative Party.
“It doesn’t look or smell at all good given Circle’s success and high profile under this Government.
There are other things about Circle that don’t smell good, either.
In 2012 a report by the Bureau of Investigative journalism, highlighted how Circle had a net debt of 42.4m, an operating loss of £17m with a fall of total revenue of 2.4% from 2010.
Circle is owned by companies and investment funds registered in the British Virgin Islands, Jersey and the Cayman Islands. When Corporate Watch, a research group monitoring large corporations, asked to see their accounts, they were met with silence.
Tory party donations and tax havens – and the ‘Great NHS Carve-up’.
As Andy Burnham also said
‘“It leaves the Prime Minister with serious questions to answer.
“He should publish a list of all contact between his Government and Circle so people can judge whether it is appropriate.”
When public attention is currently turned to party funding, pay-offs, and backstairs influence, the answers to those questions – and to wider ones about private health companies and their donations – would be even more interesting.