Let me say right at the outset, so that my position is clear, I used to be a fan of Mr Richard Branson, I admired his entrepreneurial spirit, I admired the was he’s progressed from selling records out of the boot of an old mini and his journey to where her is today.
Today, however, I am not so sure.
I was reading The Green Benches this morning, a blog about Mr Jeremy Hunt and his apparent lies, or inability to stick to his promises, whichever you prefer. This item makes reference to Virgin Care. I was aware that Virgin Care existed and that they were involved somewhere in the privatisation of the NHS (or certain facets of it) but I had never really taken any notice of it, but I have now. I found something I didn’t expect to find.
I started with Who are the Directors of Virgin Care? The answer was simple for Virgin Care Ltd, but if you check at Companies House you will find that there are 4 more companies whose names begin Virgin Care, and they all have a different permutation of Directors. Why? Then I asked myself Who are the shareholders then? Simple answer = 1, VIRGIN HEALTHCARE HOLDINGS LTD, Why?
Let’s go back to the Directors of Virgin Care Ltd first. They are
- Dr. Vivienne Margaret McVey
- Mr Edward Bartholomew Johnson
Dr McVey is currently a Director of 11 Companies, none of which disturb me particularly, the majority of them are subsidiaries of the Virgin Brand somewhere.
Mr Johnson is currently a Director of 7 Companies, again most of them linked to Virgin.
That didn’t really take me very far, except I don’t understand why the sole Shareholder of a company is a subsidiary of the same brand. It may possibly be totally legitimate but I for one don’t get it. So I had a look at Virgin Healthcare Holdings Ltd, the sole shareholder of Virgin Care Ltd.
There don’t seem to be any Shareholders for this Company, so where does that take us? There are 6 Directors of this Company, so maybe they are the sum total of shareholders, who knows? Two of the Directors are Dr McVey and Mr Johnson.
The other four are
- Mr Nicholas Anthony Robert Fox, who has 2 other Directorships, both of which seem quite innocuous.
- Ms Clare Margaret Hollingsworth, who has 4 other Directorships including Macmillan Cancer Care and Eurostar (?!?)
- Mr Patrick Charles Kingdon McCall who is Director of numerous other companies, too many to list here.
- Mr Graham Charles Eccles. Mr Eccles is somewhat more interesting. He has only two other current Directorships; Network Rail Ltd, and Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd. He has previously been a Director of numerous Transport-related companies including Stagecoach and South West Trains.
Now call me old fashioned, but is this not a conflict of interests when Virgin Trains are negotiating for the West Coast Mailnline franchise? I freely confess that I don’t know the answer but trying to follow Virgin Care’s antecedents has led me to believe that the waters here have been a bit muddied. I’m a simple soul and I just believe that things should be easy to follow and if they’re not, I want to know why they’re not and are we being deceived somewhere along the way? Normally the answer to that sadly seems to be YES, but if all is Ticketyboo then I am truly sorry for doubting you Mr Branson.