Number 10 spinner fingered in NTL investor 'bullsh*t' suit
Points for honesty, allegedly
The man Gordon Brown hopes will pull the government out of its popularity slump was accused of deliberately misleading investors over the financial status of NTL when he was its COO.
Documents filed in a New York class action suit - the cable firm was listed on Wall Street - claimed that after a 2001 conference call Stephen Carter was asked "how can you... persuade investors to believe that NTL is going to be OK when you know it isn't?"
He allegedly replied: "What I tell them is nine-tenths bullshit and one-tenth selected facts."
Carter was poached from a City PR firm and appointed strategy chief by the Prime Minster last week.
The case was settled for $9m without admitting liability by an insurance company acting on behalf of Carter and nine other directors in 2006.
At the time of the call, NTL was saddled with massive debts from investment in the UK cable network. Much of the bill has been inherited by the current owner Virgin Media, which was formed after NTL merged with Telewest in 2006.
Carter left his job as NTL's chief operating officer in 2002. The suit said he and other senior executives illegally lied to spin their way out of the share price nosedive triggered as the full extent of its financial woes emerged.
The conversation is recalled in evidence from his former customer marketing director Charles Darley. It piles further embarrassment on the government, as it tries to move on from a series of scandals that have brought its integrity into question in many eyes.
According to The Times, Carter declined to comment other than to say that US court actions were “often complex and long-running”, while his lawyer said Carter flatly denied the allegations.
We asked Number 10 for comment - we're still waiting.®
Legal or illegal?
Well, perhaps there is nothing better than a legal lie?
I've an idea...
We give Paxman an electric chair a'la Dr Marvin Monroe's family therapy centre and via the magic of the interweb the general public are allowed to shock politicians when they won't answer the question or we suspect they're lying? Of course it'd mean an increase in the licence fee to cover the electricity bills but I for one would be happy to pay.
In between NTL and Number 10, Mr Carter was also
in charge of appointing his ex-NTL colleagues to senior positions at Ofcon, moves which ultimately led to the state the UK broadband market finds itself in today: "free" broadband that isn't, "unlimited" broadband that isn't, a polarisation between "with LLU" and "without LLU" areas in terms of services and prices, and in the LLU areas, multiple sets of unnecessarily duplicated equipment and infrastructure. All just to see which of the LLU ISPs can offer the lowest margin, worst quality, "free" broadband service without actually going bust before their competitors.
And for the folks not fooled by "free" broadband, there's little chance of quality service at a reasonable price, not for much longer anyway, because Ofcom largely let BT do whatever they want to do. All Ofcom *really* needed to do was get a proper regulatory rein on BT, and we could have done without this LLU broadband nonsense. But no...
Ofcom. You know it makes sense. Just not on this planet.