Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, pictured, has written to investors in his eco property firm to warn them the company may be going into a formal insolvency process
Investors in an eco-friendly property venture launched by Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud have said they fear they may never see their money again.
McCloud launched Happiness Architecture Beauty (HAB) in 2007 ‘to make homes that lift the spirits’.
But the Guardian reported on Friday that an email sent by McCloud to HAB Housing investors said that accountancy firm KPMG had attempted to call in money owed by HAB Housing.
‘HAB Housing cannot pay and could yet be forced into a formal insolvency process,’ the email was reported as saying, adding: ‘I am determined that investors should see their investment as not entirely lost.’
McCloud resigned as a director of HAB Land Ltd in 2018 and control of the company was acquired by another firm, BAH Restructuring Limited.
In October 2019, KPMG was appointed as a liquidator of BAH Restructuring Limited, HAB Land Limited and HAB Land Finance plc.
KPMG said in October that HAB Housing Limited was unaffected by those liquidation proceedings.
HAB Housing lost £1,033,362 on turnover of £336,284 in 2018.
Accumulated losses of £4,268,368 including 2018’s loss were held at the end of 2018.
Investor capital of £1,972,441 offset those losses to leave it £2,275,442 in the red.
Joint liquidator James Bennett said last October: ‘The directors have reported that higher-than- anticipated design and project management costs, coupled with delays to the delivery of the sites, resulted in the companies experiencing significant liquidity issues.’
The Guardian quoted Robin Brookes, who put £5,000 into HAB Housing after it launched an equity crowdfunding campaign, as saying: ‘It is starting to look like I will be getting nothing back at all.’
Retired teacher Gill Mascord, who had previously invested £3,000, told the PA news agency that while she had not read the latest email reported in the Guardian, she felt the money was already ‘lost’.
Accountancy firm KPMG was written to Mr McCloud, pictured, and demanded its money back
Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud launched his own property venture in 2007 with his eco-homes business Happiness Architecture Beauty (HAB). But the company’s Lovedon Fields development has been beset by problems
The idea was that HAB Housing, McCloud’s company, would be markedly different from other construction firms
She said: ‘I’m not expecting to get any of the money back.’
Ms Mascord said she had been aware there were potential investment risks, but added: ‘It felt less risky because Kevin McCloud was involved with it and because the principles that they were using seemed like wholly good ones.
‘I have never invested like that before and I never will again.’
Those who followed McCloud’s personal advice in January 2017 invested a combined £2.4m into his firm but have now been told they can expect to lose up to 97 pence in the pound.
Meanwhile a separate group of 650 bondholders who invested £1.9m in 2013 have been warned there is ‘no reasonable prospect’ of being able to sell their holdings, despite the firm anticipating no ‘significant income’ into the business for ‘several years’.
The presenter, who said he was the largest single investor in the firm, said he would do ‘everything in [his] power to improve the current situation’ adding he was working to ‘find a resolution with both the mini-bond investors and the company.’
But a representative of one investor said many had been left ‘feeling angry and betrayed.’
Several of the schemes started by the firm, such as this one in Kings Worthy, Winchester, faced significant delays
The modern eco-friendly homes nestle between industrial fencing and unfinished roads
The ‘HAB Housing’ sign is visible from the road to passers-by but residents say the company has been difficult to get hold of
Gill Mascord, 64, from Woodplumpton, Lancashire, who pumped in £3,000 said she was ‘shocked’ to learn of the internal investigation.
She said: ‘I haven’t heard anything from Kevin McCloud at all, he certainly hasn’t written to all the investors to say what’s happening. I’m not so wealthy that I can just forget about that sum of money.’
A representative of another investor told the Guardian: ‘None of the 650 investors have received a penny in dividends or have even been allowed the opportunity to sell their shares in order to reclaim any of their investment… Many are left feeling angry and betrayed.’
For more than two decades McCloud has been one of the country’s best-known design experts, fronting Grand Designs on Channel 4 since 1999, in which he meets clients to discuss their often elaborate plans for their dream home.
The series has been sold to 145 countries from Australia to Canada and has spawned multiple spin-offs plus a popular live event held annually over 10 days in London.
Many parts of the development remain unfinished and residents are living in streets that still look like a construction site
The firm broke a record for crowdsourced funding in 2013 but now investors can’t get their money out and may never see it again
In 2007 McCloud founded development firm HAB (Happiness Architecture Beauty), saying ‘HAB’s mission is to make homes that lift the spirits, that are a pleasure to live in and a joy to behold.’
The company’s website claims it was set up ‘to challenge the way identikit volume housing was built in the UK’, and the company has expanded rapidly with developments across the country.
In 2013 and again in 2017, McCloud’s businesses raised money by issuing ‘mini-bonds’ to small investors.
‘They keep saying they haven’t got any money’: How HAB Land Ltd’s financial woes keep getting deeper
When HAB Land Ltd wanted to raise capital in 2017 it issued a ‘mini bond’ to small investors, who put in anything from a few thousand pounds to £200,000.
In total the bond issue raised £2.4 million.
Mr McCloud personally encouraged investors to part with their money, writing the bond would: ‘directly fund our schemes and yield healthy returns that are economic, social and environmental.’
He added: ‘I really hope you feel excited to join us on that adventure.’
The five-year bond promised annual returns of eight per cent.
But in August the company wrote to propose a restructuring which would prevent any investor receiving an interest payment or cashing out any money until 2024 at the earliest.
The company also warned investors: ‘After final completion of the projects … the net return available to bondholders would be expected to range from £606,000 (best case) to £69,000 (worse case) which, in each case, is equivalent to 26 pence and 3 pence for every £1 of bond monies invested’.
It means investors stand to lose between 74 per cent and 97 per cent of their capital.
Last week the company confirmed bondholders had rejected the proposed restructuring
In 2013, 650 people put a combined £1.9m into HAB Housing, a world crowdfunding record at the time.
And in 2017 HAB Land Ltd, the land acquisition arm of the business, raised £2.4m in a bond issue promoted as offering an ‘enviable interest rate’ of eight per cent.
In January 2017 McCloud personally encouraged investors to part with their money, writing: ‘Our investors will be able to see potential returns through social and environmental means as well as gaining a good financial return.’
He added: ‘Allow me to urge you to hurry and join our community of like-minded investors.’
But those 2017 investors have now received a letter to dash their hopes of an eight per cent yield, or even of seeing their original investment again.
The Guardian reported that the January 2017 bond investors have received a letter from HAB Land Finance which stated: ‘After final completion of the projects … the net return available to bondholders would be expected to range from £606,000 (best case) to £69,000 (worse case) which, in each case, is equivalent to 26 pence and 3 pence for every £1 of bond monies invested’.
It means investors stand to lose between 74 per cent and 97 per cent of their money, and as a result the company has proposed a restructuring which would prevent any investor cashing any money out until 2024 at the earliest.
The letter also says HAB Land would be unable to continue to trade without a further injection of funds, the paper reported.
Separately, investors who broke a world crowdfunding record in 2013 by providing £1.9m in capital to HBA Housing have been told they can’t get at it.
A July 2019 letter to the 2013 crowdfunding investors warned ‘the numbers’ were ‘serious’.
It said that without support from another McCloud business and from McCloud personally, ‘the business would not be here.’
And it stated: ‘Unfortunately, there is no reasonable prospect of liquidity for these shares.
‘By way of warning, we do not expect significant income into the business for several years.’
A representative of a 2013 investor told the Guardian: ‘None of the 650 investors have received a penny in dividends or have even been allowed the opportunity to sell their shares in order to reclaim any of their investment … Many are left feeling angry and betrayed.’
Mr McCloud told the paper he wished he had been ‘less reliant on the executive team over the years’, adding ‘I placed my faith in past management in the belief the business would be run well and that decisions would have been above board and fully compliant.’
He said: ‘I am HAB Housing’s largest single investor and have supported the business financially for 12 years.
‘I will of course do everything in my power to improve the current situation but I cannot discuss anything else at this point because we are, importantly, trying to find a resolution with both the mini-bond investors and the company.’
Writing to potential investors in 2017 Kevin McCould (pictured) wrote: ‘Our investors will be able to see potential returns … as well as gaining a good financial return’
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Tesla driver, 20, is found ASLEEP at the wheel of his self-driving car speeding at 93mph
A Tesla driver has been charged after being found asleep at the wheel of his self-driving car speeding along at 93mph in Canada.
The man’s Model S Tesla was pictured with its seats fully reclined while roaring along near the town of Ponoka, about 60 miles south of Edmonton in Alberta.
When cops discovered the car traveling at about 86mph, they turned on their emergency flashing lights – only for the Tesla to ‘automatically begin to accelerate’ to 93mph. The speed limit on that stretch of highway is about 68mph.
The driver, 20, from British Colombia, was charged with speeding and given a 24-hour license suspension for fatigue.
A Tesla driver has been charged after being found asleep at the wheel of his self-driving car speeding along at 93mph in Canada
He was later also charged with dangerous driving and he was served a summons to appear in court in December.
RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull told CBC News: ‘Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going. I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless.
‘I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.’
Tesla Model S sedans have autopilot functions which includes auto-steer as well as ‘traffic-aware’ cruise control. In this case both functions appeared to be in use..
Turnball added: ‘We believe the vehicle was operating on the autopilot system, which is really just an advanced driver safety system, a driver assist program. You still need to be driving the vehicle.
‘But of course, there are after-market things that can be done to a vehicle against the manufacturer’s recommendations to change or circumvent the safety system.’
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Secret blueprints for Covid-19 vaccine trials revealed by Moderna and Pfizer
US biotech firm Moderna, one of nine companies in the late stages of clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, became the first to publish the complete blueprints of its study following calls for greater transparency.
Pfizer, the other American company currently carrying out Phase 3 trials in the US, followed suit a short time later and there is now added pressure for the remainder to do the same.
Only Moderna laid out a likely timetable within which a successful vaccine could be discovered, estimating it will be before the end of the year.
Yet President Trump claimed on Tuesday that there could be one as early as four weeks time, before his November re-election attempt.
US biotech firm Moderna, one of nine companies in the late stages of clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, became the first to publish the complete blueprints of its study on Thursday
He even forced Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to walk back testimony to the Senate that masks work better than a vaccine on Wednesday after blasting the comments as ‘mistaken’.
The president said he had called Redfield to set the record straight and said the CDC boss had agreed he ‘answered that question incorrectly’ about the masks.
The secret blueprints were released in the hopes that the companies will win the trust of the public and scientists anxious about the safety of an early vaccine.
The details are generally kept under wraps but Moderna and Pfizer bowed to public pressure amid concerns from Americans that the quick discovery of a vaccine has become too much of a political issue to be deemed safe.
Phase 3 is the final stage before approval, in which a vaccine and a placebo are tested on thousands of participants to verify the medicine is safe and effective.
Both companies blueprints detailed the comprehensive road map for the trials, as well as details on how participants are being tested and monitored.
The plans also layout the conditions under which problems would stop a trial early and how evidence is being used to determine whether those who receive the vaccine are being protected from Covid-19.
Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel said on Thursday his company would know whether their vaccine works by November. October is possible but unlikely, he told CNBC.
Final analysis may not take place until the spring of next year, however.
The trial protocol published Thursday, which runs to 135 pages and is marked ‘confidential,’ fixes the parameters of the experiment.
The most important of these is how it will judge whether results are conclusive.
The reality of an immunization trial is that it’s necessary to wait until a certain number of volunteers become naturally infected, in order to compare outcomes in the placebo group against the group given the vaccine.
So the decline in the rate of infection in the US could theoretically delay the results, possibly until December, said Bancel.
Pictured, a sign is pictured outside Pfizer Headquarters in New York
A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts
As of Thursday, Moderna had recruited 25,296 volunteers. Among them, 10,025 had received their second dose, 28 days after the first.
It’ll take a few more weeks to recruit the full quotient of 30,000 participants and for them to receive their second doses.
Only Covid-19 infections recorded two weeks or more after the second dose are counted, to give the vaccine sufficient time to take effect.
Interim analyses by a committee of independent experts are planned over the course of the trial to verify whether a high statistical threshold of effectiveness has been reached, and to monitor for serious side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated its bar for approval is a vaccine that reduces the risk of falling sick with Covid-19 by 50 percent.
The Moderna trial protocol ‘has the key information (for) stopping rules, interim analyses and efficacy assumptions. Applaud their transparency,’ Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Institute and one of the critics leading the charge against possible political interference, told AFP.
Moderna also said that 28 percent of its participants were from racial minority groups.
Having sufficient participants among black and Hispanic people in particular is crucial in obtaining statistically representative results for these communities that have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.
The decision by Moderna, which has received $2.5billion in US government money, left a spotlight on Pfizer, whose CEO has repeatedly said the company will have its results by the end of October, which is in line with Trump’s wishes.
Moderna should have enough data from its late-stage trial to know whether its coronavirus vaccine works in November, CEO Stephane Bancel said on CNBC
Tony Potts, a 69-year-old retiree living in Ormond Beach, has his temperature checked by Clinical Research Coordinator Angela Hammerle before receiving his first injection as a participant in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial sponsored by Moderna
A spokeswoman told AFP Pfizer has traditionally not shared the full in-depth study protocol, but ‘the Covid-19 pandemic is a unique circumstance and the need for transparency is clear’.
‘As a result, the company is making the full protocol for its self-funded Covid-19 vaccine pivotal study available to reinforce Pfizer’s longstanding commitment to scientific and regulatory rigor that benefits patients.’
The other frontrunner is AstraZeneca, which has co-developed a vaccine with the University of Oxford.
The medicine’s global trials were suspended last week after a participant had an unexplained illness, but were later restarted in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa.
The US remains the exception for reasons that aren’t yet known.
A spokesperson told the New York Times that the company intended to publish its protocol shortly.
At least one expert has raised questions about the currently released blueprints already, according to the New York Times.
‘I want to acknowledge a good deed done,’ said Peter Doshi, a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore.
‘They have opened up, for the first time, the ability for researchers not involved in the trial to form their own independent judgment about the design of this study.’
The vaccine race has become deeply politicized in the US in the run-up to the presidential election in November, as President Donald Trump touts a quick vaccine in response to criticism of his handling of the pandemic.
Trump repeated on Wednesday that the first vaccine would be approved by October, increasing concerns that the White House will place pressure on the approval body, the FDA.
‘I don’t trust Donald Trump,’ his rival from the Democratic party Joe Biden said.
Experts and officials in the Trump administration agree that it’s not possible to predict the results of the trials that are underway, and it’s highly unlikely to have strong data before the end of 2020.
Vaccine doses will be initially very limited, according to health authorities.
The timeline laid out by Moderna lines up with that suggested by Dr. Redfield.
He told senators on Wednesday that a vaccine would not be widely available until the middle of next year. Hours later, Trump said that his comments were a ‘mistake’.
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‘Forrest Gump’ author Winston Groom dead at 77
Winston Groom, the writer whose novel ‘Forrest Gump’ was made into a six-Oscar-winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop cultural phenomenon, has died at age 77.
Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama, said in a message on social media that Groom had died in that south Alabama town. A local funeral home also confirmed the death and said arrangements were pending.
‘While he will be remembered for creating Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist & noted author of American history. Our hearts & prayers are extended to his family,’ Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.
‘Forrest Gump’ was the improbable tale of a slow-witted but mathematically gifted man who was a participant or witness to key points of 20th Century history – from Alabama segregationist Gov. George Wallace’s ‘stand at the schoolhouse door,’ to meetings with presidents.
Winston Groom (pictured), the novelist who wrote Forrest Gump, has died in Fairhope, Alabama, this week at the age of 77
Groom’s best known book was Forrest Gump, a 1986 novel that was transformed into a major Hollywood movie eight years later. Pictured: Tom Hanks as the titular character Forrest Gump
It was the best known book by Groom, who grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965, according to a biography posted by the university.
‘We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of our Legends, Winston Groom,’ the university wrote on Twitter.
Groom served in the Army´s Fourth Infantry Division from 1965 to 1969, the university said. His service included a tour in Vietnam – one of the settings for ‘Forrest Gump.’
He wrote 16 books, fiction and nonfiction. One, ‘Conversations with the Enemy,’ about a American prisoner of war in Vietnam accused of collaboration, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, according to the university.
It was ‘Forrest Gump’ – and the success of the 1994 movie starring Tom Hanks in the iconic role of Gump, as well as Sally Field and Gary Sinise – that earned him widespread fame and some financial success.
The original novel has sold at least 1.7million copies since the initial publication.
Groom (pictured) was a military veteran who grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and later graduated from the University of Alabama in 1965
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey wrote on Thursday that ‘Alabama lost one of our most gifted writers’ and credited him with being a ‘talented journalist & noted author of American history’
The University of Alabama expressed their condolences in a Twitter post following Groom’s death
The novel is considerably different from the film. Don Noble, University of Alabama professor emeritus of English, and a 40-year friend of Groom´s told The Tuscaloosa News that the novel was ‘darker’ and ‘richer’ than the movie.
‘You can make a lot of money as a comic writer, but you can´t get no respect,’ Noble said. ‘But “Forrest Gump” is really actually quite a fine novel. It´s more subtle and more complicated … richer than the movie.’
The movie, which also starred Robin Wright and Mykelti Williamson, became deeply embedded in the American psyche and has remained an enduring television staple and huge cultural phenomenon since.
‘It touched a nerve,’ Groom told the Tuscaloosa News in 2014.
The film dominated the 1995 Academy Awards, winning six Oscars including best picture, best director for Robert Zemeckis and best actor for Hanks.
The film Forrest Gump garnered critical acclaim for its cast, including Sally Fields as ‘Mrs. Gump’ and Tom Hanks as ‘Forrest Gump’
Gary Sinise (left), who played Lt. Dan Taylor, starred in the movie alongside Mykelti Williamson as Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue (center) and Tom Hanks (right)
Actress Robin Wright (left) played the role of Jenny Curran, the childhood friend and eventual love interest for Tom Hank’s Forrest Gump (right)
It was 1994´s No. 2 grossing film at the box office, second only to ‘The Lion King.’
The basic outlines of Gump´s life are the same as they are in the book: Gump plays football under Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant at the University of Alabama, serves in Vietnam and starts a major shrimp business.
But the film made major departures. Gump was not a math savant as he was in the book, and was a more saintly soul.
The film took away Gump´s size – Groom said he envisioned John Goodman playing him – along with his profanity, and most of his sex life.
They ‘took some of the rough edges off,’ Groom told the New York Times in 1994.
Groom also wrote non-fiction on diverse subjects including the Civil War, World War I and Alabama’s Crimson Tide football.
In 2005, Groom released ‘1942: The Year That Tried Men´s Souls,’ which chronicled the first year of U.S. involvement in World War II.
Pictured: Winston Groom signs copies of ‘Gump & Co.,’ the sequel to ‘Forrest Gump’, at a New York City bookstore in August 1995
In 2009 he released ‘Vicksburg 1863,’ an account of the Union siege that brought a novelist´s touch to historical figures like Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman and Jefferson Davis, president of the confederacy.
His most recent novel, El Paso, was published in 2016.
Groom got $350,000 for the rights to ‘Forrest Gump’ plus 3 percent of the net profit of the movie. But he got into a serious dispute with Paramount Pictures when they told him a film that had earned over $600 million was in the red after expenses.
But years later he wasn´t bitter.
‘They did an excellent job,’ he told the Tuscaloosa News. ‘I would have probably preferred my version of it, but that thing never would have opened.’
The book became a major best-seller in the wake of the film, and Groom got a much better deal for the follow-up novel, 1995´s ‘Gump and Co.’
‘I´m happy as a pig in sunshine,’ he told the Mobile Register.
Nonetheless, sequel-addicted Hollywood somehow never made the new movie.
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