Why the wide-eyed Aussies may have bitten off more than they can chew.

What our mainly mendacious Health Secretary depicted as “an early stage of talks” last week – in order to deflect political flak – this morning turns out to be a done deal in which he and former Ogilvy & Mather media bigwig Mike Elms are set to pocket just over £14million each. The Slog has been on the graft and nepotism involved in Jeremy Hunt’s Hotcourses since 2010. While his success in offloading this crock is being presented by the half-asleep media as a triumph for entrepreneurial determination, the truth is very different.

I have been on the case of Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt since 2011 – chiefly on the subject of his incredible gift for inheriting things. Before that, I had in turn followed the Fake’s Progress in developing Newscorp influence in London, paying visits to New York for ‘media background’ (but spending 90% of his time with James Murdoch), and being bankrolled by mysterious sugar-Daddy J J Lewis….one-time owner of the notorious Groucho Club, with its links to paedophile sites and illegal use of cameras to spy on clients misbehaving on its premises.

I’m a tad pushed for time today (there’s a fruits de mer cheese & olive pie in the oven) so this post will be a summary of the calumny involved, with some suggested further reading at the bottom. And if some of you are worried about much of it appearing to be actionable, I would point out that it’s been up there in the Slog Archives for 3-6 years now. On occasions Hunt has denied the facts, but later quietly changed his Wikipedia entries. On others he has not reacted at all.

The key headlines are these:

  1. Hunt and Elms formed Hotcourses primarily on the promise of monopoly business-flow from the British Council, a senior director of which at that time was Baroness Nettlestone, Hunt’s second cousin by marriage. She is married to Peter Bottomley, a man whose name has for many years been linked with the now extinct Monday Club and its odd trips to Amsterdam in search of hateful sexual practices.
  2. The first job Hotcourses did for the BC was an administrative shambles that cost the taxpayer substantial sums to put right. In order to disguise Hunt’s continuing relationship with the Council after this inauspicious start, the invoicing system was elaborately obfuscated to include a company involving the name Sheffield. In fact, the bills went to the offices in Hammersmith owned by, um, Hotcourses. (Hunt later flipped the liability on these offices to avoid tax).
  3. During 2011 and 2012 – following revelations at The Slog – former Hotcourses employees sent me several personal case histories alleging abusive employment practices by Hunt and Elms, falsification of questionnaires that allowed Murdoch to vote them ‘Best London Employer’ and illegal pressure upon employees to work unsocial hours without reward.
  4. When Virginia Bottomley was “elevated” to the House of Lords – her reward perhaps for pulling the carpet from under the Terence Higgins Trust – by sheer coincidence I’m sure, Hunt sailed through the selection process for her vacated constituency -and entered the Commons.
  5. The new Baroness Nettlestone née Bottomley (having herself been Health Secretary) almost immediately shouldered the arduous role of representing PPP and BUPA in the Lords.
  6. Equally spooky – given his history of Newscorp bottom feeding in both London and New York – Hunt somehow managed to convert his obviously corrupt role in the failed Newscorp bid for BSkyB (while Minister of Media & Sport) into a promotion to….er, Health Secretary. Especially odd given that, within Camerlot itself, he was widely expected to be fired. But then, the shadowy J J Lewis is a major contributor to the Conservative Party – and a man who, in the past, had shared Committees with David Cameron.
  7. In 2014, a consortium made a substantial bid for Hotcourses. However, on conducting due diligence, they reversed out of the deal very rapidly.

The Australian buyer of Hotcourses now, IDP Education, was floated onto the Australian stock market in 2015. Having raised megamoney from the usual braindead Bourse analysts, it is very common for such cash-drenched Pools winners to spray it around unwisely. I only hope its shareholders have faith in the directors. My only advice would be to have no faith whatever in the prospects for Hotcourses….unless, of course, British further education continues to be raped by Gove’s successors – and/or Jeremy Hunt and his cousin Baroness Nettlestone succeed in their plan to hand over the NHS to the private insurance business.

In which case, of course, half-baked Hotcourses for medical students will be heavily demanded.


Further reading about Hunt Balls at The Slog:

The Satanic Mill that made Hunt a fortune

That Hunt-Bottomley link in full

The 2014 change of mind by Hotcourse buyers