Dear Reader,

Thank you for visiting our website.

By way of background, my name is Ahzaz (Az) Chowdhury and I am the co-founder and Managing Partner of Nudge Factory. I founded the company with my business partner, Paul Scully, in 2011.

You might have seen a story in the Mail on Sunday which mentions Nudge Factory and insinuates impropriety. We are currently taking advice in relation to the wording of the article as I do not believe that the Daily Mail and its journalists have abided by their own industry’s code of conduct in the writing of this article. Having been asked to provide and having given all of the information and facts to the Daily Mail, they have chosen not to use what was provided but write an article about my company based on insinuation.

In the meantime, I take my duty to my very professional and hardworking staff, my clients and the professional duty to my industry very seriously and so want to ensure the facts are publicised which I have done below.

I hope that you will be in a much better position to make your own mind up about my company’s situation and see the story published by the Mail on Sunday for what it truly is – a complete and utter non-story.

Here are the facts:

THE FORMATION OF NUDGE FACTORY:

  • Paul Scully and I founded Nudge Factory together as Directors in April 2011. The company was founded on doing things differently, with a focus on helping businesses to understand the communities in which they operate.
  • Paul stopped working for Nudge Factory as an employee until February 2015 and took his final salary shortly after. This was so that he could have a clean break from the company and concentrate on fighting his first General Election. Paul has not worked for the company in any way since February 2015.
  • Since the election in May 2015, Paul has drawn no salary from the company nor has he been paid by any client.
  • As an employee in the first four years of Nudge Factory’s operation, Paul spent 75% of his time managing the administration of the business. As a fledgling start-up, Paul was responsible for finance, admin, HR and IT – even as an employee, Paul was responsible for looking after client accounts specifically with regards to delivering corporate social responsibility outcomes – not lobbying. In the first few years, we both invested heavily and took very little salary to get the business off the ground.

 

THE RELATIONSHIP SINCE 2015:

  • After his election in 2015, we made a decision that as a founder of a company he had spent four years of his life building up that he maintain his shareholding of Nudge Factory and change his directorship to non-executive status.
  • For the sake of clarity, a non-executive director does not engage in the day-to-day management of an organisation – in our case, his advice to me on administration matters has been completely unpaid and informal. 
  • In 2015 the shareholding of the company was changed and I have a controlling share of the business and therefore take every executive decision myself. Paul’s shareholding will be diminishing further as we grow and take investment into the business.
  • Not only has Paul not carried out any work for Nudge Factory since February 2015, he confirmed to the Daily Mail that he does not intend to carry out any such work in future. Paul told the Daily Mail that he is, and intends to remain, a full time Member of Parliament.

 

PAYMENT OF DIVIDENDS

  • Since the time of the change of shareholding, I have solely made every executive decision in the business including when dividends are taken.
  • In October 2016, for personal reasons, I needed to make alterations to my family home. I took a dividend from the business. Given Paul’s shareholding of the business, he had to take his share of the dividend at that point – this was a single payment made to him of £4,000 – he had no say in this decision-making process.

 

RELATIONSHIP WITH NUDGE FACTORY’S CLIENTS:

  • Since February 2015, Paul has not carried out any work for Nudge Factory, or any of its clients.
  • Paul does not represent any clients or accounts for Nudge Factory, does not act on their behalf and has not been asked by me or any of my staff at Nudge Factory or our clients to act on their behalf.
  • Whilst it would be legitimate to do so, Nudge Factory has not, and will not, act for any clients within the London Borough of Sutton to avoid perceived conflicts of interest.
  • Paul confirmed to the Daily Mail that he has not been in communication with government, government agencies, or his Parliamentary colleagues about any business undertaken by the company, nor on behalf of any of clients. 

 

QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT:

  • Nudge Factory has never asked Paul to table any questions, nor have I or any of my team asked any intermediaries to do so. This is not something we would ever do.
  • Paul has also confirmed to the Daily Mail that he has never asked any parliamentary questions prompted by the company or its clients.
  • In the article, the Daily Mail insinuates that a question asked by Paul in Parliament in November 2016 could have been for the benefit of Nudge Factory’s clients. This is not true. The Daily Mail was given the facts which it decided knowingly not to report. The question asked was relating to bringing publicly owned land back into use, that related to an issue involving the former Sutton Hospital site in Paul’s constituency, which he continues to pursue. The written question specifically mentioned was in fact an oral question that wasn’t reached on the order paper thus eliciting a written answer which the Minister decided to concentrate on housing. Members are allowed to ask a supplementary question after their main pre-submitted question has been answered. Paul asked what would have been this supplementary question in the topical question section later in that session – https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2016-11-28a.1239.4&s=scully+land#g1244.2 . The site of the former Sutton Hospital in question is earmarked for a biotech campus in a collaboration between the London Borough of Sutton, the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden – apart from the fundraising I do in my personal capacity for The Royal Marsden Cancer CharityNudge Factory has no links to any beneficiaries of that question whatsoever. 

 

REGISTER OF CONSULTANT LOBBYISTS:

  • Nudge Factory was registered with the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists on 10th September 2015.
  • It is a requirement of the Registrar that all Directors of the company are declared as according to Companies House, Paul is therefore listed properly on the register in his capacity as a non-executive director – not as an individual who conducts lobbying.

 

NEXT STEPS:

  • I will continue to lead Nudge Factory to operate as a legitimate business with ethics at its core.
  • Nudge Factory will continue to not act for any clients within the London Borough of Sutton to avoid perceived conflicts of interest.
  • We are in the process of taking advice in relation to the wording of the article. I would suggest to the Daily Mail and its journalists that they refer to the Code of Conduct of the National Union of Journalists, in particular point 2 which states that a journalist ‘strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair’.
  • I want to ensure that we continue to be the best in what we do and continue to win new clients based on our merits, ability and good counsel.
  • I do not wish to risk further insinuations of impropriety, my first responsibility is to my staff and their morale and so to that end, I will sacrifice the informal advice I get from Paul Scully and will recruit a Managing Partner into the business who will take on the leadership role of business administration. To be clear, Paul Scully will step down as a non-executive director with immediate effect. 
  • The sentiment behind the drive to prevent legislators from being recruited by lobbying agencies is a sensible one. However, this case is the opposite with someone from a consultancy background entering the world of elected politics and simply seeking to retain and protect his considerable investment in time and money over several years.
  • I would urge colleagues in the industry to not make hasty judgements about my company based on an article not based on fact but rather purely on insinuation.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further clarification.

Best regards,

Ahzaz Chowdhury
Managing Partner, Nudge Factory

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you require any further information:

Ahzaz Chowdhury
Managing Partner, Nudge Factory

e: az@nudgefactory.co.uk
d: +44 (0)20 3637 5961