Several weeks after his £350-an-hour non-executive position in Crucial Academy was exposed, which was formerly part of the Surge group of companies which promoted London Capital & Finance, high-flying Johnny Mercer MP has finally broken his silence.
Today the BBC has explicitly connected Mercer’s salary to LCF. Previously, while it was a matter of public record that Crucial Academy was part of the Surge group of companies, no one had been brave enough to trace a direct financial link between Mercer and LCF. The BBC reports:
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.
However, the accounts of Surge Group have been published and show nearly £9m was loaned from Surge Financial to Surge Group without which, the auditors said, the company would be unlikely to survive.
Surge Group then loaned £325,095 to the Crucial Group, which owns Crucial Academy.
An industry expert told the BBC the cost of training 80 people on the courses provided by Crucial would be about £240,000.
When added to the cost of Mr Mercer’s £85,000 salary, the total almost exactly matches the amount loaned to Crucial Group.
Mercer has responded on Twitter by describing the coverage as a conspiracy against him and hints that the purpose is to undermine his leadership ambitions.
Clearly there is some co-ordinated effort to go after me at present – the reasons for which are unclear.
Mercer strongly disavows any link between LCF money and himself, and suggests that the link between him and LCF is nothing out of the ordinary.
It is possible to draw a link between an individual and any number of companies.
Mercer does not provide any other examples of MPs to whom one can draw a link from other collapsed unregulated investment schemes.
He describes the loan from Surge Group that funded Crucial Academy as a “historic link” which has now been repaid.
Mercer expresses sympathy with bondholders:
I have huge sympathies with bondholders, and would support them in any future action they take to try and recover their position.
before doubling down on his allegation that the coverage of his involvement with Surge is a political conspiracy.
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.
Why Mercer seems to think the national news media would need a political conspiracy in order to cover his recent work (prior to the management buyout) for a group of companies which took 25% commissions from London Capital & Finance I don’t know. Most of us would consider that newsworthy in and of itself.
By “calling out deliberate efforts to smear me”, Mercer appears to be referring to allegations he has recently made that Parliamentary colleagues are attempting to “dig up dirt” on him.
Mercer is spoken of as a potential future Tory leader. As yet he has not explicitly stated that he will stand to replace Theresa May, but he has called for an overhaul of Conservative Party rules to allow its membership to choose from four leadership candidates, rather than the current limit of two.
However much a threat it may pose to any leadership ambitions, Mercer does not view the coverage as sufficient reason to give up his £350-an-hour salary.
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 adrift in this storm.