Jon Ungoed-Thomas

The Observer

Jon Ungoed-Thomas broke a series of exclusives in the business world in 2022/23.

In June 2023, he revealed how the food giant Danone was calling for a tax in the UK on unhealthy foods, the first major food company in Britain to call for urgent action in the face of rising rates of obesity. Campaigners said it was “crazy” the government was failing to effectively regulate the food industry while preparing to spend what may be billions of pounds on new drugs to combat obesity.

In July 2023, Ungoed-Thomas revealed two-thirds of England’s biggest water firms employed key executives who had previously worked at regulator Ofwat. An analysis by the Observer has found 27 former Ofwat directors, managers and consultants working in the industry they helped to regulate, with about half in senior posts. It triggered calls for more robust rules and vetting procedures for regulators moving to the private sector.

An investigation by Ungoed-Thomas in September 2023 revealed how the incoming chair of Nat West was paid £200,000 a year working for an oil firm now embroiled in one of the world’s biggest financial scandals. Haythornthwaite was revealed to have rebuffed the campaigner Clare Rewcastle who exposed the 1MDB scandal and its links to the oil firm PetroSaudi. The Observer also obtained documents in its investigation which show Haythornthwaite proposed bonuses from PetroSaudi to him should be “ring-fenced” offshore, with a structure which he said could be put in place by the private bank Coutts.