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Castlebeck Chairman Resigns

July 17, 2011

Forget Rebekah Brooks. Forget Paul Stephenson. There’s been a much more surprising resignation in the world of care homes. Any thoughts, readers?

The chairman of Castlebeck, the company behind Winterbourne View, the care home at the centre of the recent BBC Panorama abuse exposé, has resigned as the group braces itself for what it expects to be a highly critical report into care standards conducted by the Care Quality Commission and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Paul Brosnan, the 35-year-old son of Denis Brosnan, one of Ireland’s richest men, will make way for Dick Stockford, a veteran healthcare consultant and troubleshooter who has worked with senior figures across the NHS including chief executive David Nicholson and Lord Darzi.

Castlebeck is owned by Denis Brosnan’s Jersey-based Lydian Capital, which is backed by fellow Irish tycoons JP McManus, John Magnier and Dermot Desmond.

Paul Brosnan, who has served as chairman of Castlebeck for almost three years, called in PwC to conduct a review of systems and controls at care homes after being presented with Panorama’s findings. The CQC also began its investigation in response the abuse secretly filmed by the BBC and broadcast in May.

Winterbourne View has closed since the programme and the firm, which operates 56 sites, has apologised. But last week four workers at Rose Villa, a rehabilitation centre in Bristol also run by Castlebeck, were suspended amid fresh allegations of misconduct.

Denis Brosnan owns Croom House stud in Limerick, where Paul grew up, and is chairman of Horse Racing Ireland. He made his fortune as the former boss of Irish food supplier Kerry Group and went on to lead Lydian Capital, whose backers are sometimes known as the Coolmore mafia because of their close business ties and their shared passion for horseracing. The Coolmore stud in Tipperary is owned by the Magnier family. Lydian investments included Global Radio, the firm behind Classic FM, Heart and LBC, and preschool nursery operator Casterbridge Care.

Stepping down from Castlebeck leaves Paul Brosnan, a former banker with Allied Irish Bank, with more time to concentrate on Casterbridge, a business he is credited with building up into 26 sites looking after almost 2,500 children. Castlebeck said: “Paul Brosnan has told the board that he believes the company needs a chairman with relevant health and social care experience at this time.”

Casterbridge attracted controversy after the 2007 death of two-year-old Rhiya Malin at its Eton Manor nursery in Chigwell, Essex. Last year it emerged Casterbridge had re-registered the nursery under a different company name.

Lawyers for Rhiya’s parents have claimed this effectively removed her death from records on Ofsted‘s website. The regulator has since said it would change the rules on how it treats such re-registering. Casterbridge said it was an unintended result of a corporate consolidation. The super-rich tycoons behind Lydian are also big investors in several other care providers in the UK. Another Jersey investment vehicle called Grove Limited — again led by Denis Brosnan — also counts Desmond, McManus and Magnier among its investors. This business controls the Barchester Healthcare empire of more than 200 homes. Grove is also a major shareholder in Cygnet, one of the largest private provider of psychiatric care services to the NHS.

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