Excl: Osborne failed to declare stake in £32m firm


11:14 am - November 14th 2012

by Martin Williams    


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Chancellor George Osborne failed to declare a personal investment in a £32m multinational company, it has emerged.

In an embarrassing mistake for the Conservative minister, Osborne accidentally listed the wrong company on the MPs’ register of interests.

The Conservative chancellor claimed to own shares in his family’s wallpaper business, Osborne & Little Ltd.

But documents from Companies House revealed his shareholding is actually with the firm’s much larger parent company – Osborne & Little Group Ltd – which has a turnover £10m greater.

The chancellor has now had to edit his financial declarations in the most recent version of the register after the error was flagged up to him.

Both firms are part of the family business, but the chancellor’s blunder hid the true nature of his investment and may have misled Parliament.

Tasked with getting the country’s books in order, it seems Osborne can’t even keep his own finances up to scratch.

Neither company managed to make a profit last year, and Osborne has not personally profited from his hidden investment for at least five years. But the parent company saw a turnover of more than £32.7m, according to the 2011 annual accounts.

And the family-owned business, which specialises in upmarket textiles, does not appear confident about Osborne’s economic policies.

Last year, the company blamed its losses on the financial crisis. The accounts warn: “there is little sign of this changing in near future”.

Osborne’s mistakes with his family business is made more worrying because he claims the company taught him lessons about finance. “It’s given me a strong understanding of what’s involved in running a business – the risks, the hard work and the commitment,” he said in 2008.

Osborne & Little was set up by the chancellor’s father, Sir Peter Osborne, in 1968.

He was criticised earlier this year for his expensive spending habits. It was also recently reported that he and wife Lady Felicity, bought a £10m mansion in West London while keeping hold of their previous £15m house.


Martin’s website: http://martinwilliamsonline.wordpress.com/

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About the author
Martin is a regular contributor, and a freelance journalist. He has written for the Guardian, The Independent, The Sun and The Mirror. He blogs at Access Docs and focuses on FOI and investigative journalism. His own website is here.
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Story Filed Under: Conservative Party ,News ,Westminster

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Reader comments


meh.

and for God’s sake, owning share in a £32m company does not equate to “a £32m personal investment” … when I buy some shares in Apple I have not just made a $600bn investment.

Ah, Sunny. You really do need to read the article before putting a headline on it.

So he doesn’t have a £32m investment and he didn’t actually fail to declare it then…

I’m no Osbourne supporter but I support misleading headlines and lazy journalism even less. Let’s get some facts and some perspective in the same article please.

So he doesn’t have a £32m investment and he didn’t actually fail to declare it then…

I’m no Osborne supporter but I support misleading headlines and lazy journalism even less. Let’s get some facts and some perspective in the same article please.

So Sunny either understood the article and then made a conscious decision to (and really, it is a truly pathetic attempt) smear Osbourne, or he was simply too dumb to understand the facts.

Neither look great, do they?

I think the laughably inept subbing here is actually deliberate, as a gesture of solidarity with the Graun.

It’s not easy to induce universal sympathy for George Osborne. Clearly Martin Williams is a man who likes a challenge.

It’s a bit ham-fisted though isn’t it? A bit too obvious?

This just in:

‘UNPRECEDENTED’ HURRICANE THREATENS 98% OF UK CROCKERY

the Daily Mail is full of shoddy and misleading stories designed to stimulate its reader’s prejudices, and it is a spectacularly successful publication.

I presume LC’s readership stats are rising.

Lady Felicity is his mother, not wife. His wife is Frances.

11. Chaise Guevara

This may be the worst title I’ve ever seen on LC. Yes, I’m as shocked as you are. Oh, and aside from the fact that it’s a straight-out lie, £32.7m rounds to £33m, not £32m.

Title Of Smear Story Based On Clerical Error Makes Clerical Error.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ Tyler

“So Sunny either understood the article and then made a conscious decision to (and really, it is a truly pathetic attempt) smear Osbourne, or he was simply too dumb to understand the facts.

Neither look great, do they?”

I can’t say either screams professionalism, no.

13. Martin Williams

For clarification:

Osborne’s investment is in a £32m business (in terms of annual turnover). His investment itself is not worth £32m. As stated in the article, he appears not to have profited personally from his shares for at least 5 years. The headline wasn’t written by me.

@Martin

Still a bit misleading and you need to get your facts right. You just said Gideon and his wife bought a mansion in SW London. That house was bought by Gideon’s parents.

This is just anti-politics at it’s worst. This is clearly a genuine error that doesn’t effect anything.

It isn’t as if there is a shortage of things to criticise osbourne for.

“As stated in the article, he appears not to have profited personally from his shares for at least 5 years.”

Or his ‘hidden investment’, as you put it.

Still, the point presumably isn’t factual accuracy, but generating the maximum number of tweets by uncritical gimps.

“This may be the worst title I’ve ever seen on LC”

I know you’ve included “may be”, but this is still a pretty big call isn’t it? I think you may have succumbed to the general air of sensationalism.

“The headline wasn’t written by me”.

LC’s most common phrase.

19. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 Martin

“The headline wasn’t written by me.”

We know. Either Sunny writes the headlines, or he exclusively publishes writers who can’t describe their own articles. The first seems a little more likely.

@ Jack C

“I know you’ve included “may be”, but this is still a pretty big call isn’t it? I think you may have succumbed to the general air of sensationalism.”

Heh. Still, I think it genuinely might be seeing as

1) Failure to declare something is not really the same as making an error when declaring it.
2) An investment in a £32m company is not the same as a £32m investment in that company. Someone really needs to explain this to Sunny.
3) The figure isn’t £32m anyway.

Pretty much the only thing Sunny got right is that Osborne is indeed Chancellor.

20. Robin Levett

So Osborne made a clerical mistake, leaving out the “Group” in the company name, and that company has a turnover of £22m rather than the £32m of the group. Hold the front page…

You did miss the fact that that “no profit on turnover of £32m” was after over £1m was paid out to 5 directors.

I think everybody’s being very hard on Sunny here.

Which is great. Carry on.

@19, true, it’s exceptionally weak.

However, as Sunny may remind us, it’s all about “narrative” and “driving the agenda”. Facts are a luxury.

So long as the gullible retweet in sufficient numbers, it’s all okay.

Of equal concern are the Shadow Chancellor’s possible links to child sex rings, but we won’t see any discussion of that on LC.

For heaven’s sake… Are you trying to win the Owen Jones Award for Not Understanding Basic Economics?

Osbourne’s general poor record as Chancellor is enough to be going on with. This is a silly smear piece – for one thing, ‘a shareholding in a business with a £32m turnover’ is not the same thing, by several thousand miles, as ‘a £32m personal investment’.

This daft article reflects less favourably on Sunny’s honesty than on Osbourne’s.

What’s sad is that more than a dozen people have bothered to tweet such misleading headlines.

So he is so incompetent he registers the wrong shares? Not surprising seeing he is an idiot. Or is he? My guess he didn’t make a mistake. But was covering up.

Tories always lie and scheme. So while he owns million pound houses, he still takes a fat tax payers salary. Then lectures about people living off the state. Just another seedy tory hypoctite. The country is infested with these people. It is like a disease.

By the way the heading is quite accurate. It does not state 32 million investment. It says 32 million firm. Tory brownshirt trolls so desperate to defend their master can’t even read.

Blind obedience to the tory Rich.

26 – Sunny’s stealth edited the headline, without acknowledging the error. The original headline is still in the url.

Another chapter in Sunny’s sidebar of shame (TM)

@27, I don’t suppose there will be an apology from Sally either.

Anyway, it’s STILL wrong, just not quite so badly. (Oddly, “Chancellor” has been removed, which as someone pointed out earlier was the one correct bit).

More importantly, and in the same vein, is the continued attempt by MP’s to bend IPSA to their will. They seem neither to have learned nor care very much.

I Got nothing to apologise for.

It’s you people who constantly run defence for the tory crime family.

“By the way the heading is quite accurate. It does not state 32 million investment. It says 32 million firm.”

It’s been edited to correct the crass error in the original.

George Osborne is a complete and utter idiot so why all the surprise.

32. Just Visiting

But saying £32M firm is misleading too.

It’s a £32M turnover firm – but as already said, worth alot less than that.

Stock market companies are valued at say 10 times proft.
Smaller, and private companies are valued lower due to the higher risk.

Companies that have not paid a dividend for 5 years….

If this company is in that boat, it is barely worth anything: 10 times profit of nothing = nothing

So as an asset belonging to anyone… £32M is just not the one number to associate with it, if you must use just 1 number.

Also intersting that Sunny has made no mention of Margaret Hodge and her roughly 9% stake in Stemcor – a much larger company with much larger turnover and profits…..and paying barely any tax in the UK.

34. Chaise Guevara

@ 29 Sally

“I Got nothing to apologise for.”

How about the fact that you just accused the entire thread of illiteracy based on a headline that has now been edited – a fact that can be proven simply by checking the URL?

35. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 JV

“But saying £32M firm is misleading too.”

True enough! The original headline was so hilariously detached from reality that I didn’t even notice that.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  18. Martin Williams

    Osborne failed to declare investment in £32m business. My story for LibCon – http://t.co/DailVqUS

  19. Maya Esslemont

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  21. Carl J

    Tut Tut Osborne its not good enough! Chancellor Osborne failed 2 declare £32m personal investment #Tories #skynews #BBC http://t.co/NrQnIjmu

  22. Kirkham Middleton

    Excl: Osborne failed to declare stake in £32m firm | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/4ceCgsbC via @libcon

  23. Celia Kelly

    Excl: Osborne failed to declare stake in £32m firm | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/A0mPij4o via @libcon

  24. Celia Kelly

    @Sharonavraham Yes, Osborne can't even get his own personal figures right : http://t.co/zOeMvapm

  25. dsugg

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  28. Trevor Hewson

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  29. Geordie Hinny

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  30. Ian Watkins

    If he cant get own affairs in order…? http://t.co/kfPeWmMf

  31. C.W.Thomas

    Don't you HATE IT when you have so many shares in daddy's companies you get confused :-(

    #Austerity Osborne style:

    http://t.co/hlZX4WSv

  32. Eugene Grant

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  35. Dan Sanderson

    Excl: Osborne failed to declare stake in £32m firm http://t.co/fvAsxSaq

  36. Omar Johnson

    So Osborne can't even handle his own finances but still handles this countries purse?

    http://t.co/Xs5KlPkP

  37. Socio Imagination

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  38. Roger Domeneghetti

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  51. avsomfed

    http://t.co/m7eXsTtD. Osborne's gets his sums wrong again.

  52. leigh wilcox

    Excl: Osborne failed to declare stake in £32m firm | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/jaGMQrrD via @libcon





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