Tory MP’s second job has ‘no financial link’ to failed bond scheme

By Claire Hayhurst, Press Association
The Conservative MP released a statement on Twitter about allegations made in a BBC report.

Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has insisted he has done “nothing wrong” after reports that a firm that marketed a failed bond scheme funded his second job salary.

Mr Mercer, who represents Plymouth Moor View, said there was a “co-ordinated effort to go after me”, adding that he “totally rejects the assertion” that he has done anything wrong.

His statement, released on Twitter, followed a BBC report that his private salary was funded by a firm that marketed a failed bond scheme that lost savers £236 million.

The MP receives £85,000 from Crucial Academy, an organisation that trains veterans, for working 20 hours a month – equivalent to more than £350 per hour.

This is in addition to his basic annual MP’s salary of £79,468.

A report by the BBC alleged that Crucial Academy was loaned £325,095 by Surge Group, following a loan to Surge Group from Surge Financial Ltd, which took a 25% commission for marketing bonds for London Capital and Finance (LCF).

Earlier this month, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said an independent probe should be carried out following the collapse of LCF in January.

The Serious Fraud Office has already opened an investigation.

Mr Mercer insisted Crucial Academy has “no financial link” to LCF and had repaid the loan from Surge Group after it was uncovered.

“Clearly there is some co-ordinated effort to go after me at present – the reasons for which are unclear,” he said.

“Let me be very clear from the outset: I totally reject the assertion that I have done anything wrong in working as a non-executive director of Crucial Academy.

“This is a training academy that trains veterans from the armed forces with particular specialist skills in cyber security, and places them with major companies.

“There are many similar endeavours, particularly in the US.

“It is possible to draw a link between an individual and any number of companies. This has been done by the BBC between Crucial Academy and London Capital Finance (LCF) – through two other companies.

“I have sought rigorous assurances that at no stage was capital used from any business with LCF, in Crucial Academy. I received those assurances.

“It now appears that there is a historical link between the two, that has been uncovered in the accounts when Surge Group loaned the Crucial Group £325,095.

“Clearly I had no role in this, joining the Academy only last autumn.”

Mr Mercer said that once that “historical link” was discovered, a management buy-out of Crucial Academy took place and the loan was repaid “to ensure the continuing integrity” of the firm.

He described the report as an attempt to tie him to LCF, a company that had “imploded amid allegations of fraud”.

“I have never met, heard of, or had any interest in this company previously, yet alone the financial products they offered,” he said.

“I have huge sympathies with the bondholders, and would support them in any future action they take to try and recover their position.

“But let me be clear: Crucial Academy is a good organisation, doing good things, run by good people, with no financial link to London Capital and Finance.

“I have no intention of resigning or cutting them loose in this storm.

“The wider context of calling out deliberate efforts to smear me by so-called colleagues in the House of Commons, and then this story appearing so soon afterwards, I will leave for others to judge.”