Mirror investigation: fake ‘parliamentary directory’ on the verge of collapse after 40 years

Unofficial parliamentary ‘Bible’ billed advertisers nearly £ 5,000 – but Andrew Penman finds not all is as it seems

David Blake is the man behind The Parliamentary Yearbook, one of the country’s most prestigious editions.

Businesses pay up to £ 4,950 plus VAT to advertise in the heavy, leather-bound tome that is read by all who matter in politics.

Or he would like you to believe.

My colleague Alan Selby looked behind the scenes and what he found paints a very different picture.

It turns out that Blake is threatened with bankruptcy, along with co-manager Judith Briers, in proceedings brought by HM Revenue & Customs.

This could be the end of a 40-year-old publishing company which, despite its name, has no formal parliamentary status and is no stranger to controversy.

In 1999, Blake and Briers were banned from serving as directors for failing to keep accounts. In 2004, a co-director, Paul Francis Blake, was banned from being a director after Blake Contract Publishing and Blake Publications Limited went bankrupt and owed £ 557,000.

Three years later, then Education Secretary Ed Balls wrote to the Yearbook demanding he stop cold calling schools and colleges and claim to be linked to his ministry.

The letter from his office indicated that a “significant number of complaints” had been received about the Directory’s sales tactics. This included suggesting that a school could receive “substantial” public funds in exchange for advertising. In 2008, it was the turn of HM Revenue & Customs, which warned that the sales operations of Blake’s parliamentary information office falsely claimed to be associated with HMRC and the Treasury.

He issued a public statement denying any such connection and suggested that anyone dealing with the company should treat it with “extreme caution.”

A former sales rep we contacted said: “We told potential advertisers that there was only one space left or that their industry or line of business would be a centerpiece – but that was not true. . “

In late 2013, the Council of British Chambers of Commerce in Europe implicated its lawyers over false allegations that the Council supported a separate publication that Blake’s company was touting to businesses overseas.

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His cabinet proudly displays online testimonials from Members of Parliament. But even these are not always what they appear to be.

Former House Leader Sir George Young MP now regrets supporting the Yearbook, saying: “When I testified in 2009 as a shadow leader, I received complaints about
company phone calls and sales techniques.

“One complainant felt that the Yearbook was an official publication and was forced to take up space. “

There’s also a testimonial from great curator Kenneth Clarke, who once wrote a short foreword to the Yearbook, but now says he doesn’t even have a copy in his office, but he does. use alone.

Who can blame him?

In the edition we got our hands on, there are about 250 pages of information publicly available from other sources and the other 750 are just paid advertisements and infomercials.

Judith Briers told the Mirror that she and Blake would challenge the bankruptcy action and insisted that the next edition of the Yearbook be published as planned after the general election.

As to past allegations of misrepresentation, she said, “If there was any confusion, we ensured that any misunderstanding was resolved. “

Blake owns a £ 2million house which he rents to tenants in St John’s Wood, north London, and is vacationing in Miami.

But with the bankruptcy hearing scheduled for next month, at the age of 64 and after being a director of 62 companies, his sauce train may finally hit the buffers.

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