Is Johnny Mercer actually a non-exec at Crucial Academy?

The Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View has been in the news a lot lately as a key backbench hold-out on Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement, one who has accused the Tory whips of seeking to dig up dirt on him in order to secure his vote.

However, a BBC story on Wednesday suggests that he does face issues which merit substantive scrutiny.

MP Johnny Mercer's salary funded by failed bond scheme marketing agent
By Chris Quevatre & Tom Palmer
A company that marketed a failed bond scheme that lost savers £236m has been funding an MP's private salary.
Johnny Mercer receives £85,000 from Crucial Academy, a company ultimately funded by Surge Financial Limited.
Surge Financial Limited took 25% commission for marketing bonds by London Capital and Finance (LCF), which is now in administration.
Mr Mercer - who is facing calls from investors to quit as an MP - said he had done nothing wrong.
The Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View is a non-executive director of Crucial Academy, which trains military veterans and aims to find them employment. (Full story)

One intriguing issue here is the status of Mercer's non-executive directorship. Here's the declaration that Mercer made last year to the Commons Register of Member's Interests:

 From 14 Sept 2018 until further notice, Non-executive Director of Crucial Academy Ltd, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AB, for which I will receive £85,000 per annum. Hours: 20 hrs a month. (Registered 18 September 2018).

Mercer also refers in his response to the BBC to 'working as a non-executive director of Crucial Academy.'

Yet, as Alex Harrowell points out, it's difficult to find a record of this directorship at Companies House. It doesn't seem to appear on the Crucial Academy entry or on the page where Mercer's own consultancy is listed. While there may be a valid explanation, at first sight, it does raise questions about Mercer's judgement and what exactly his role was.

Update 27/04: One possibility is that Crucial Academy has simply been late filing a change of director with Companies House. This would be a significant issue in itself given that the firm filed a confirmation statement with no updates in March.

Johnny Mercer appeared on Have I Got News For You last night and was tackled about his role by Ian Hislop. A good account is at The Bond Review, a blog with some valuable coverage of the wider controversy in which the Crucial Group of companies is enmeshed. It concludes:

As a non-executive director, Mercer has access to Crucial Academy’s accounts and it should be a fairly easy matter to determine whether Crucial Academy, despite being a new startup which only launched a year ago, earns sufficient revenue from cybersecurity training to pay its non-executive director £85,000 a year from that revenue source alone.

The question remains, however, if he is in that position, why doesn't it appear at Companies House, six months after his declaration? And if he's isn't in that position, how is he able to make the statements he has about the source of his salary?


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