back to article Hacker House shoved under UK Parliament's spotlight following Boris Johnson funding allegs

Infosec training biz Hacker House has been catapulted to Parliamentary prominence after reports that co-founder Jennifer Arcuri secured UK government funding because of her personal relationship with now-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At today's first Parliamentary sitting since the Supreme Court overruled prorogation yesterday …

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  1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    > It appears to El Reg that Hacker House's website is loading, albeit very slowly, suggesting the sustained public interest is causing its servers to wobble rather than anything nefarious

    2.8 million requests apparently.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Windows

      This used to be called the SlashDot effect...

      1. theModge

        and as times and relative popularities of websites change, is now the redit "hug of death"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I first read this headline I wondered if Hacker House was some government building which had been re-named in honour of the Right Honourable Jim of Yes Prime Minister fame

    1. Richard IV

      It certainly seems to be something to do with Administrative Affairs.

  3. H in The Hague Silver badge

    Where are they based?

    A Guardian journalist called their UK number to ask where they're based: "... A woman with a US accent then answered the call, but would not give her location other than saying that it was somewhere in the US. She added: “I don’t have a specific location information to provide. I’m in an offsite location. I’m not allowed to release that type of information. I’m in the United States.”"

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/25/unfit-for-office-mps-challenge-boris-johnson-public-money-jennifer-arcuri

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Where are they based?

      And that leads to the question, why are they getting government grants if they are an offshore company?

      Perhaps yhey have connections.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        "an offshore company"

        FWIW Hacker House is based in southern California, where Arcuri lives with her partner, Matthew Hickey, who co-founded HH. It also has a UK presence and has UK staff.

        C.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "an offshore company"

          > It also has a UK presence and has UK staff.

          From the various media reports, it seems people are having problems locating the current address of the UK operation.

          Perhaps if someone actually knows where it is they can give the address here - there is bound to be one or more El Reg commentors living just around the corner and verify.

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: Re: "an offshore company"

            Supposedly, it's in London.

            C.

            1. egeria
              Black Helicopters

              Re: "an offshore company"

              According to Companies House the registered office was changed yesterday from 9 Bollin Mews Prestbury Macclesfield SK10 4DP England to 107-111 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AB. I'm guessing journalists were turning up to sleepy-looking 9 Bollin Mews. 107 Fleet St is probably a law firm. https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09678695/filing-history

            2. uro

              Interesting that they changed their UK address the very same day they are mentioned in the HoC:

              https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09678695/filing-history

              As well as the registered address of their other UK company, Innotech Network Limited:

              https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08424712/filing-history

              107-111, Fleet Street, London, England, EC4A 2AB appears to home a rather large number of dissolved / liquidated / dormant and active companies - fairly disproportionate to the number of offices available in a 4 storey building.

            3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: "an offshore company"

              Well they do appear to have a London telephone number - that forwards - we do as well, but it is clear that it is maintained by a company who provide office space for meetings in the capital (being based some hundreds of miles away)

            4. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Re: "an offshore company"

              Companies House shows registered address changed yesterday to 107-111 Fleet Street, London from the Cheshire address. Googling the address shows it's a Regus serviced office space, with a listing on Rightmove

              Rather oddly, there were several earlier requests to change the registered addresses to this Regus office, so not sure this is a good measure of which registered address is *the* registered address.

            5. CliveS
              Happy

              Re: "an offshore company"

              I believe the word you're looking for is "allegedly"...

        2. macjules Silver badge

          Re: "an offshore company"

          No, the "address" was 9 Bollin Mews in Prestbury, near Macclesfield which was then hurriedly changed to Fleet Street, London at around 3 pm yesterday. The telephone number 020 8123 1379 seems to be a Skype number and gets answered in California.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "an offshore company"

          It also has a UK presence and has UK staff.

          Looks like El Reg readers have located the current "UK presence"; an accommodation address.

          However, as yet no UK staff have either come forward or been identified. Do El Reg readers have among their friends and contacts a Hacker House employee, who is currently avoiding the spotlight...

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            "an accommodation address"

            Er, well yeah, it's called Hacker *House* ;) Lots of small biz is run out of people's home offices. That's basically what it was, a small infosec training outfit run out of a home office.

            I completely get why people see this as being a bit weird - not a terribly fixed address, etc. We're doing a piece today or for Monday on WTF's really going on.

            C.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: "an accommodation address"

              >That's basically what it was, a small infosec training outfit run out of a home office.

              Yes, it is hard to get a handle on just how small "The team of Hacker House" were.

              As you suggest it might just have been the co-founders wearing both the owner and employee hats.

              No problems with the home office and (typically) using the accountants "accomodation address" for official/public purposes - its what I use.

              1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                "it might just have been the co-founders wearing both the owner and employee hats"

                I will say this: Matt at HH knows his stuff, he's even been quoted in El Reg a few times, and we know of people who have gone through HH's training. So it's a thing.

                C.

                1. ds6 Bronze badge
                  Alert

                  Re: "it might just have been the co-founders wearing both the owner and employee hats"

                  Real question at this point is whether the funding is still valid, then. I don't personally think so, as despite how good these lads are, it isn't going toward UK interests...

                  1. Roland6 Silver badge

                    Re: "it might just have been the co-founders wearing both the owner and employee hats"

                    >I don't personally think so, as despite how good these lads are, it isn't going toward UK interests...

                    Given what diodesign has disclosed, I suggest things aren't so clear cut. It will only be by examining the details of the funding and HH's UK expenditure will it be possible to make a judgement call on that.

                    Suspect the real question is whether HH would have received the funding without Boris's behind the scenes involvement in the award process. In my books - because I've been there, I see nothing fundamentally wrong with Boris either encouraging HH to bid or advising HH on what their funding bid needs to include to improve its chances of success. However, it is wrong if Boris also gets involved in the bid assessment and award process and thus influence the selection of bids that will receive funding.

                2. macjules Silver badge

                  Re: "it might just have been the co-founders wearing both the owner and employee hats"

                  Heard lots of good things about HH and Matt and, yes, he does indeed seem to know his stuff. Then problem is not actually about HH or Matt but more about whether they solicited funds from the Mayor of London via some sexual liaison between Johnson and Jennifer Acuri and under the pretence that this was grants. Important to remember that Johnson was, as mayor, head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, a role equivalent to being police and crime commissioner for the capital, so any corruption allegations are going to be taken much more seriously.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where are they based?

      Maybe they've been hacked ?

    3. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Where are they based?

      (I think I) Saw something on Twitter yesterday where someone rang them up and asked the time during the call - then being told "5:30am", and reportedly consistent with California according to the poster

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because of her personal relationship...

    Given the sleazy headlines that have come out of Westminster in previous decades, I think theres a juicy kiss-and-tell on its way!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Because of her personal relationship...

      Euuugh!

      You've put the image of kissing Boris in my mind!

      Pass the mindbleach.... :-/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Because of her personal relationship...

        It wasn't on the lips, if that helps?

    2. Mark 110

      Re: Because of her personal relationship...

      Boris's love life history seeems to involve, getting married, fucking other women then lying about it. And having the odd child that he denies existance of. Not a hundred percent sure why these women find him attractive but lets face it I would do Jo Brand for an £100k grant . . . .

    3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Because of her personal relationship...

      Arcuri will probably make more money from that - and won't have to feign 'interest' in the PM.

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Windows

    Why are we even...

    Pretending anymore that our elected leaders aren't corrupt upto the eyeballs.

    Every other day there's a scandal like this and nothing ever seems to change. Those that should have been locked up for fraud, moral scandals, legal scandals, lying to Queen and Country. It goes on and on... And nothing ever seems to change.

    They all could get caught with their hands in the till and everyone will tisk and then look the other way like they've done with everything else up to this point. It's tiresome beyond rational

    </rant>

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Don't give up; that serves their purpose

      I don't credit these leeches with the intelligence to strategise the collective disillusionment of the populace so their malfeasance can proceed unabated. But if we fall into their unwitting trap, the outcome is the same.

      Fight!

    2. Chris Parsons

      Re: Why are we even...

      Couldn't agree more. I find it worrying that people just shrug when it is mentioned our pm is a proven liar and philanderer.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Why are we even...

        Surely that only shows him to be fitted for the job of politician ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are we even...

      I should find it disturbing that "our elected leaders aren't corrupt upto the eyeballs", but I no longer do. Perhaps then, I should find it worrying that our elected leaders don't give a fuck about trying to cover their tracks? Because, really, they didn't try hard, or rather, not at all.

      1. Andrew Jones 2

        Re: Why are we even...

        It's like the Seaborne thing - you never hear about it anymore. It was quickly proven Seaborne couldn't possibly deliver on it's promises, and the fact the £13m contract to them was replaced with an £89m contract to DFDS and Brittany - who CAN provide the service - further shows that Seaborne could never have been real - and yet - no-one is interested, there is no investigation, no criminal proceedings.

        I find it seriously depressing that following on from that - Eurotunnel complained and threatened to sue because they were not even considered when the Government handed DFDS and Brittany the contract, so the Government paid them £33m to settle the case out of court. Now P&O are suing because we paid £33m to Eurotunnel.

        If the Government actually did any due diligence on any of this, and this is the result, that's actually as scary as the thought that they did no due diligence at all.

  6. Barrie Shepherd

    "I wondered if Hacker House was some government building"

    It is - Boris Johnson's safe house

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Let's hope Peter Guillam has reversed the switches to turn on the audio monitors, and someone has forwarded the tapes to Wikileaks.

  7. xeroks

    this thread maybe gives another view of what's been going on here:

    https://twitter.com/nicktolhurst/status/1176839648406122497

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Amongst the depressing tale of alleged sleaze, perhaps the most depressing news is that Boris Johnson can earn six figure sums for public speaking. Given his barely coherent performances in public - including his peroration to the UN on pink-eyed terminators and limbless chickens - it just shows how depressingly stupid his acolytes are - and how many of them are obviously in positions of power and influence. Mind you, if ever there were a time when a pink-eyed terminator would come in handy, it would be now.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Not the he needs to. By about August this year he'd been personally given over half a million quid in donations. Check it youself:

        https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/financial-reporting/donations-and-loans/view-donations-and-loans

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Donations and income

          However, bungs in the form of pay for not very good speeches and frankly amateurish newspaper articles are legal, as is paying relatives to do "secretarial work" to maximise expenses.

  8. dnicholas Bronze badge

    They're called Hacker House ffs. Where's the due diligence

    1. dajames Silver badge

      They're called Hacker House ffs. Where's the due diligence

      I agree that there should be due dilligence -- but not that there should be any more (or less) due dilligence than if they were called (say) "Safe Castle" or "Reliable Manor". We ought to be able to see further than the name ...

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Not clear if arcum or johnson is a "Friend with benefits"

    Presumably regarding the fast tracking of grants that is.

    Just saying.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Not clear if arcum or johnson is a "Friend with benefits"

      Well as someone said of Clinton during one of the many scandals 'What's the point of being the most powerful man in the world if you can't screw the odd intern?'.

  10. IGotOut

    Were they seperated at birth?

    We just need Boris to adopt the orange sunbed look and it would be imposible to seperate them.

    Both corrupt, both think the law does not apply to them, both try to force their personal agendas through and both lie and decieve at every possible chance.

    1. LRanger
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Were they seperated at birth?

      Shouldn't that be 'spray booth'?

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Were they seperated at birth?

      I'm looking forward to seeing blojob adopt the orange jumpsuit look.

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