A charity founded by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has paid more than £110,000 – two-thirds of its earnings – to its former political adviser Adam Smith, who lost his job following a lobbying scandal.
Patient Safety Watch, which was set up to research preventable harm in healthcare, paid Smith, as sole employee and chief executive, about 66% of his revenue in the year ending in January 2022.
The charity is partly funded by Hunt but also solicits donations from the general public on its website.
It was set up in 2019 to conduct research, but appears to have produced no papers since then. A message on its website reads, “We have an ambitious research program addressing a wide variety of patient safety issues. We will post details of our upcoming research on these pages.
However, the reports page says: “Our reports will be posted here – please check back soon for our first search….”
Its main output appears to be blogging and publishing newsletters from Hunt in his capacity as founder and trustee of the charity. The charity’s annual accounts explain that it chose not to publish its research – some of which has been completed – as the NHS remained under significant Covid-related pressure and would only do so “when the climate will be good”.
Smith resigned as Hunt’s adviser as culture secretary in 2012 after the Leveson inquiry, following a scandal in which he exchanged messages with a lobbyist from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The company was seeking permission to take over BSkyB (now Sky) at the time, with Hunt in a quasi-judicial role.
When he resigned, Smith said he acted without the authority of his boss and left the impression of too close a relationship between News Corp and the Department of Digital, Culture, media and sports.
Smith is currently employed by Hunt as a parliamentary aide, returning to work for him in 2020.
Smith’s £110,000-£120,000 salary, first reported by the civil society publication, represents more than two-thirds of the charity’s annual income of £164,400 for the financial year ending in January 2022. Its annual accounts show that £106,000 of its income came from donations and bequests, and a further £58,400 from other business activities.
Accounts show his sole employee received a salary of £47,232 in 2020, and this more than doubled to £113,600 in 2021. His 2022 accounts refer to a salary bracket of £110,000 at £120,000.
The three administrators of Patient Safety Watch do not receive any compensation. The directors are Hunt, charity worker James Titcombe and chartered accountant David Grunberg.
Hunt and Patient Safety Watch did not respond to a request for comment.