A charity established by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, gave two-thirds of its proceeds—more than £110,000—to his former political aide Adam Smith, who was fired due to a lobbying scandal.
About 66% of Patient Safety Watch’s revenue in the year ending January 2022 went to Smith, who serves as the organization’s sole employee and chief executive. Patient Safety Watch was founded to investigate avoidable damage in healthcare.
Hunt contributes money to the charity, but it also uses its website to ask for donations from the general public.
It was founded in 2019 with the intention of conducting research, however it doesn’t seem to have done so since. “We have an ambitious research programme looking into a wide range of patient safety issues,” reads a post on the organization’s website. It promises to publish details of forthcoming research on its pages, however, there have been no reports published or available on the site.
Its principal feature seems to be a blog and newsletters written by Hunt in his capacity as the charity’s cofounder and trustee. According to the charity’s yearly reports, it decided against publishing its research—some of which has already been completed—while the NHS was still under intense Covid-related pressure and would only do so “when the situation is suitable.”
After the Leveson inquiry, Smith resigned as Hunt’s adviser as culture secretary due to a scandal involving text messages he had exchanged with lobbyist from News Corp. which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s UK media. At the time, the firm was looking for approval to acquire BSkyB (now Sky), and Hunt was acting in a quasi-judicial capacity.
When he announced his resignation, Smith said he had acted without his boss’s approval and that he had permitted the appearance of an unduly tight relationship between News Corp and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.
Smith resumed working for Hunt in 2020 as a parliamentary adviser.
More than two-thirds of the charity’s yearly revenue of £164,400 for the fiscal year ending January 2022 is made up of Smith’s £110,000–120,000 remuneration, which was first disclosed by the Civil Society journal. According to its yearly reports, contributions and bequests contributed £106,000 of its income, and other commercial activities contributed another £58,400.
According to the reports, the company’s sole employee was paid £47,232 in 2020, and that amount more than quadrupled to £113,600 in 2021. It mentions a pay range of £110,000 to £120,000 in its 2022 accounts.
The three Patient Safety Watch trustees are not salaried. The trustees include Hunt, James Titcombe, a charity worker, and David Grunberg, a professional accountant.
Both Patient Safety Watch and Jeremy Hunt have declined to comment on the charity’s payments to his former political aide Mr Smith.