back to article Move along, nothing to see here: Auditors say £100k grant to Hacker House was 'appropriate'

A £100,000 government grant to Jennifer Arcuri's infosec training business, Hacker House, has been flagged as "appropriate" following an investigation. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) awarded the money to the business in October 2018 under the Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund (CSIIF). However, the …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    GIAA?

    Which used to be known as “Giving It All Away”. Nice to see they are living up to their name.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    So many independent whitewash reports around lately

    Why would that be?

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: So many independent whitewash reports around lately

      It would be because that's the way of the world.

      One side doesn't want people to know where the bodies are, the other is keen to discover them. The trouble is that *all* of them are magicians, keen on making sure you're not looking where the trick is being done. They're all guilty, charities, political parties, businesses.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA)

    any INTERNAL audit agency, government or private, is simply not reliable. And even the external ones should be regularly audited to check the source of their funds. But who'll audit the auditors? :(

    1. Uk_Gadget

      Re: The Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA)

      The auditors will audit the auditors audits, simples

  4. batfink Silver badge
    Holmes

    I could use this much whitewash for the house

    Read the report - it's pretty short.

    There is no good reason stated for the waiving of the requirement for the grant not to exceed 50% of the company's income (£0.00 in this case *).

    Apparently the requirement for the company to be UK-based is checked by the highly investigative method of looking to see whether they give a UK registered address. Never mind actually checking whether they're operating from there. The Granuiad rang up their "UK" number and it diverted to California. So, not a lot of effort involved to discover the bullshit.

    But all of that is OK. The report says so.

    And I do note that nobody seems to be asking what happened to the money. Have we actually seen any of these highly-trained Security whizzes produced?

    My turn for a 100 Grand bung next, I suggest.

    * Although they did apparently provide some bank statements that showed it wasn't zero. Surely that discrepancy alone would have set off alarm bells?

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: I could use this much whitewash for the house

      And it costs £97.99 per year to have a registered office at the address they are located at

      https://www.completeformations.co.uk/company-shop/regent-street.html

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: I could use this much whitewash for the house

        The one they had at the time of the application was apparently a flat up north. IIRC, a journo/politician sent a letter to it and it got returned with "not known at this address", or some such

    2. Jedit
      Paris Hilton

      "My turn for a 100 Grand bung next, I suggest."

      I am disgusted with the lowering of standards on El Reg to the point where someone would volunteer to have sex with Boris Johnson for a measly £100k.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: "My turn for a 100 Grand bung next, I suggest."

        I guess there will always be people who are that desperate for money...

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: "My turn for a 100 Grand bung next, I suggest."

        She's a bit on the lardy side though.

  5. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Where can I signup for £100k giving false, misleading information? Disclosure - it'll be for me to relocate somewhere warm this winter !!!!

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Alternatively, pay me (cash only) to act as your agent to fill the forms out and apply on your behalf.

      Form an orderly queue please!

      This must be the post Brexit bonanza that Boris is talking about

  6. a pressbutton

    Times move on

    It used to be called "discussing ugandan affairs"

    Now it is "it training"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An innocent man

    'New routemaster' ordered 95% to spite Mayor Ken, i.e. replace his bendy busses that were well within their working life, and 5% nostalgia for the Empire. Never mind that the design was rubbish and the best part of the original routemaster was the open platform that you could jump on and off if the traffic was slow enough.

    'Garden bridge' concept suggested by a close friend and put in progress despite the fact there was no earthly use for it and the necessary land and permits hadn't been looked into, never mind secured. Contract for building it awarded to a company completely co-incidentally run by other close friends; the promise that it would be open to the public 24/7 turned into 'available for private hire most of the time' and 'no cycling' the rest of the time; £60m of taxpayer's money disappeared into the pockets of 'consultants' for reasons no-one has been required to explain.

    That airport in the Thames Estuary - absolutely nothing at all to do with closing down Heathrow, selling off the land for private flats and thereby turning a strong Labour parliamentary seat (current occupant: J McDonnell) into a Tory one, plus a similar affect on the local council.

    Absolutely-not-at-all-a-mistress Ms Arcuri just happening to have large amounts of British money spaffed all over her... company for legitimate business purposes in .... America.

    I think there was something recently about a ditch.

    Yep, just a constantly misunderstood guy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An innocent man

      I'm eagerly awaiting the news reports of him being found dead and lying in a ditch. After all, that's what he promised us if he had to ask for an extension. Oh hang on, the extension was offered? He didn't have to ask for it? What a shame.

      Lying weasly bathtub.

      1. Chris Parsons

        Re: An innocent man

        We have a suitable ditch; I wrote to my MP and offered it, free of charge, but have yet to receive a reply.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: An innocent man

      To be fair, the bendy buses were also rubbish.

      They were sold to Transport for Malta who tried them for a bit, and the ones that didn't spontaneously combust are now rotting in a Maltese scrap yard.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: An innocent man

        Ah, Malta. That bastion of corruption free government

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: An innocent man

        I was unlucky enough to overlap with the reign of the bendy buses, and they were both a nuisance and a menace. If nothing else, one of the few vehicles capable of blocking an entire four-way four-lane junction in all directions simultaneously. Have also used them in their natural habitat of wide, grid-system roads in Vancouver, where they do the job well, but not suited to London's roads.

      3. 7layer

        Re: An innocent man

        At the moment more than 200 runs in Budapest, the capital of Hungary.

        https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_Conecto_G

        https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volvo_7900A

        Trust me it is not that bad. That is the "double decker" there.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An innocent man

      You seem to be mixing facts and wild speculation.

      Both the "new routemaster" and the bendy buses had significant flaws - the bendy buses kept catching fire, resulted in significantly more injuries to pedestrians and cyclists and led to increased fare evasion while the new routemasters were expensive to operate with a conductor and once the conductor was removed, only led to slight increase in injuries and fare evasion, but suffered reliability issues and tended to be uncomfortably warm on summer days. Both accurately reflected the design abilities of the respective mayors...

      As for the Thames airport, suggesting it was a plot against Labour when Heathrow was/is clearly a political time bomb is both speculative, assumed the Thames estuary plan had any chance of being approved when people don't really like spending billions on a project that might literally explode and ignored the political advantage gained by giving a nonsensical option that ignores the elephant in the room is a little paranoid.

      As for Ms Arcuri, I would disagree with her having large amounts of money spaffed all over her. Compared to similar exercises by other mayors, the amounts are moderate at most - you're not really spaffing taxpayers money until you hit at least a million. The rest of your characterisation seems entirely accurate.

    4. Ian Johnston

      Re: An innocent man

      'Garden bridge' concept suggested by a close friend ...

      A simple rule of thumb is that anything given public support by Joanna Lumley is a terrible idea.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: An innocent man

        A simple rule of thumb is that anything given public support by Joanna Lumley is a terrible idea.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurkha_Justice_Campaign

      2. Peter X

        Re: An innocent man

        To me, the problem with the Garden Bridge wasn't that it was suggested, it was more than it cost £53 million to do exactly nothing. Clearly, *if* it was a vaguely good idea, it was going to cost *some* money to explore this concept, but £53M is *insane*.

        I'm not sure it's fair to blame Lumley for any of that.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: An innocent man

          Agreed - I still can't understand just what that £53m was spent on. My version of a simplified project:

          Project scope: vague design idea of a bridge across the Thames that has dirt on it, not tarmac

          Step 1: work out where in London it might be useful (foot traffic analysis - ask TfL, maybe spaff £100-200k max?)

          Step 2: work out where in London it might be possible (correlate Land Registry ownership records for either bank of the Thames, assume a nominal "land depth" - also look at what size boat traffic needs to be able to go under it at different points, and soil composition to grade difficulty of construction - maybe another £200k)

          Step 3: Are any points in step 2 close to step 1 points? If no, give up, or consider converting one of the existing bridges (i.e. give up as they're probably congested enough) If yes, get proper construction estimates based on no specific design (i.e. brief is "build a bridge with load X tons from A to B - will have trees on it, so make sure construction is such that root damage is impossible")

          Step 4: Take largest estimate, £Y. If (2xY)< budget, proceed with more detailed analysis, else give up

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: An innocent man

        TBF to Lumley the garden bridge she suggested was to be built by public subscription so the cost to the taxpayer would have been 0. It took Johnson to turn it into a massive disaster.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: An innocent man

          The Garden Bridge was pointless as it fell between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges, both of which had good transport connections. The GB would simply take you across to Temple station... if it was open (closed midnight-6am plus for up to 12 private commercial events a year)... if you were in a group of not more than 7... if you were to push your cycle

          Oh, and if they actually got access rights to the land at either end

    5. a pressbutton
      Pint

      Re: An innocent man

      I think you left out a few bits about him and his character

      Getting fired for lying at least twice

      Conspired - unsuccessfully - to have a journalist beaten up

      (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/14/black-eyes-boris-johnson-plot-attack-reporter-darius-guppy)

      and no-one is sure how many children he has

      (Personally speaking, I cannot vote Con whilst it hosts people like him, in the interests of balance cannot stand Corbyn either - so that leaves me the lib dems, thus the icon that solves all problems.

      I am sure someone will now tell me about them now)

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: An innocent man

        And if you vote Lib Dem you get Torys and you're right back where you started.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: An innocent man

          Depends on the constituency. E.g. Oxford is currently LibDem with a majority over Cons of 816. Choice between Lab or LibDem could be crucial in whether Cons get in when Lab need to increase their number of votes by a factor of 3 to stand any chance in that seat.

    6. PB90210

      Re: An innocent man

      "I think there was something recently about a ditch."

      Not forgetting the Heathrow Expansion bulldozer to push him into the ditch

    7. EnviableOne Bronze badge

      Re: An innocent man

      The NEW RM was a campaign pledge and he was encouraged to give it to the Mercedes/ Wrightbus consortia so they would safeguard jobs in NI. The bendy busses didnt work, as no-one paid. I saw regualrly a combined BTP/TfL checky hit squad get 20-50 people fare doging on one bus....

      The estuary airport is probably the best option, its further from town, involves less aircraft noise, creates a single London Hub airport, to rival AMS/CDG/FRA and re-develops a left behind region.

      The garden bridge was an idea, and it never came off, an at least its £60m not £60bn (like HS2)

  8. katrinab Silver badge
    Coat

    Must be very cramped

    They share their registered office at 3rd Floor 207 Regent Street with 4355 other companies, which, as far as I can gather, works out at less than one square foot per company. How do they all manage to fit in there?

    Also, for some reason, lots of fraudsters have had offices there in the past.

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Must be very cramped

      Would one of those 4355 other companies happen to be a provider of mailboxes and/or mail forwarding? Just a guess.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Must be very cramped

        Yes, of course

        https://www.completeformations.co.uk/company-shop/home.html

  9. Peter Prof Fox

    And what did we get for that dosh?

    A postcard from the USA or something worthwhile and value for money (Ha ha ha hahhh...)

  10. Milton Silver badge

    Translation: open season

    In other words, anyone could set up a shoddy front company, publish a site and some marketing drivel, fill in a few forms and ask for money, and provided they have cited a UK address and someone answers the phone, there's a good chance of a six figure handout from the taxpayer? The point is not whether serial liar, adulterer and Man of Dishonour Johnson behaved in the manner to which we have all become accustomed: the point is that such pitiful safeguards existed to stop this kind of ridiculous waste of public cash.

    Like many readers here, I run my own limited company and find myself wondering how little I would need to do to BS my way into superfluous government grant money.

    In other news, on my way out this morning I checked the ditch, hoping to find a fat, ugly, useless, recently expired Brexit, but ....

    (Crikey: I hope the walking compost heap didn't get it on with the equally unedifying Ms Arcuri. If they did and the tabloids got hold of the photos, a nation's eyes would bleed ...)

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Translation: open season

      Or, there's always the possibility of a ferry contract. No ferries required.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Translation: open season

      Having, rather naively, been involved in a similar process, I can fully understand how this happened.

      These kind of programmes are not, actually, designed to give money to people who will use it wisely to invest in development. They're designed so that councillors/ministers can be photographed shaking the hands of people who can be captioned as "entrepreneurs" in order to prove that Something Is Being Done. There does seem to be a preference to reward those with the slickest publicity as this will result in the greatest media exposure for the ministerial handshake and the SIBD message.

      On the whole this is actually better than giving money to some worthy enterprise. The application process simply wastes the time of organisations that actually have something useful to do and the award of a significant amount of money to one company in a small area (technically or geographically) can simply distort the market and actively disadvantage those that didn't apply, or applied (at some cost) and then lost.

      Better still not to give the money away in the first place, but how else would they fill their time? Pole dancing?

    3. Peter X

      Re: Translation: open season

      find myself wondering how little I would need to do to BS my way into superfluous government grant money

      One suspects you would need to know about such an offer in order to apply for it. Are such things advertised widely in order to ensure a broad selection of competent applicants?

      And following on from that thought, I wonder who else applied for the same grant? And did they get it?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other words, anyone could set up a shoddy front company

      well, definitely not "everybody", just "some". But hey, I'm told I should trust my government...

    5. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Translation: open season

      > anyone could set up a shoddy front company, publish a site and some marketing drivel, fill in a few forms and ask for money, and provided they have cited a UK address and someone answers the phone, there's a good chance of a six figure handout from the taxpayer?

      You forgot the bit where you "give personal tuition in your flat to a personage in a position of authority prior to making the application"

  11. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    If people are not happy with this maybe we should be sending the gov less money. They will always believe they can spend it better than we can but most people believe that of everyone else as well.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Basically there are two possible conclusions

    1. the process of handing out money is so lax that it is a free ticket to corruption city

    2. The process and safeguards are adequate, but somehow this women managed to sidestep them

    Either way its a pretty although indictment of the present government.

  13. Alan Johnson

    Report is disturbing

    The report seems to consider it acceptable that not only was made to a company that did not meet the sensible requirment that the money awarded to a company should not exceed more than 50% of income but that it was awarded to a company that claime dno income at all. They also seem unconcerned that the company does not in fact sem to have anything more than a registerd address in the UK and do not in fact conduct business here.

    Leaving aside the undisclosed relationship between Johnson and teh company owner this is incredible. An application as made for a new company with no track record, that completely failed to meet sensible requirements for a grant and yet it as awarded large amounts of money. The report considers that acceptable which is ridiculous. The reality is that reading the report we have a choice between believing that grotesque incompetence and recklessness with public money or corrupt influence on behalf of a friend resulted in large amounts of money being given inappropriately to an american. Neither is very good yet the report says everything is fine.

    I find the report more disturbing than the money being given against the rules. IS this really considered acceptable or is it this easy to fix an enquiry?

  14. Xiox

    Tom Watson has a look at the application here: https://twitter.com/tom_watson/status/1189986590933880832 - it's pretty shocking. She actually writes in the application "I have no idea if I'm answering this right?".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Security ?

    Is there any evidence she knew anything about IT security? Or is she just like that coding bint who was in the news a few years ago?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could be worse...

    Good job it was Arcuri rather than Mercouri, otherwise he could've lost his marbles as well.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A DCMS spokesman said: "An independent review has concluded the eligibility and subsequent grant award to Hacker House Ltd was appropriate."

    Yes. And how much DCMS had to pay for this conclusion? Statements from paid puppets do not mean a thing.

  18. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Legal or not, it's the perception that counts

    If there's even a hint of a conflict of interest, the answer is always no, do not proceed.

    But this is Boris Fail Johnson we are talking about.

    Cousin of Donald No-collusion Trump.

  19. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Boris-per-second

    Commentard Mike Richards was somewhat prescient when he used the term on his post about the exchange between Silva and Arcuri...

    "In terms of bollocks-per-minute it was rating about 1 Boris-per-second.

    An immensely frustrating interview on both sides."

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2017/06/06/break_e2e_crypto_fight_jihad_cunning_plan/#c_3200338

  20. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    UK is so friggin corrupt.

  21. Dave Ross

    Appropriate...

    If your government is a gang of crooks I guess!

  22. Mr Dogshit
    Gimp

    "a close friendship"

    Fnar fnar!

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