Deposed web quango chief argues he spent £135,000 in company money on a book deal

Russell Haworth

Russell Haworth

The chief of Britain’s ousted website Quango has advocated spending £135,000 of the company money on a book deal and has pledged to donate some of the proceeds to charities.

Russell Haworth, who resigned from UK domain registrar Nominet in early 2021, spent six figures on a Forbes book publishing deal shortly before his departure.

Nominet is not mentioned at all on the cover of the book, “Thoughts from the Great Chair: A Leader’s Guide to Digital Transformation,” scheduled for release in April.

Andy Green, president of Nominet, said: “The book has no value to today’s Candidates. Given the circumstances, I was surprised that the author decided to continue his publication.”

Nominet UK oversees the .uk domains market, including and It was founded in the mid-1990s as a “public interest” company and has 2,500 members.

Members – mostly companies that buy and sell internet domain names like GoDaddy and other businesses – have roughly equal authority over the board of directors as shareholders.

Screenshots from an internal Nominet forum used by its members and seen by The Telegraph show that Mr. Haworth’s book has become a lightning rod for discussion about the purpose and direction of the company.

One member posted: “How did Nominet get into a position where it not only has to pay the CEO £135,000 to write a book, but also potentially has to buy ‘significant amounts’ of the book?”

Mr Haworth, formerly CEO of Nominet, said the publication of the book was considered by members of the board to be part of “marketing activity designed to raise the profile of the company and key people within the organization, particularly those targeting international markets”.

“The net proceeds from the book will go to Nominet’s ‘One Million Lives’ charity partners, which provide youth with access to digital skills and support internet security,” he added.

A Candidate spokesperson expressed surprise at Mr Haworth’s offer to donate the proceeds from the book to the nominated charity.

Mr Haworth stepped down as chief executive of Nominet shortly after signing the Forbes deal in 2021 and before an extraordinary general meeting was called to fire him and four other executives. Under Mr. Haworth’s leadership, the company began to shift from managing domain names to cybersecurity to commercial expansion, a move some members opposed.

It spent £4.9m acquiring CyGlass, a company in this space, but last summer to divest that business for £1.

“Nominet had to admit that CyGlass was a flawed acquisition and shouldn’t have happened,” said Kieren McCarthy, a longtime Candidate critic who was voted into the board last year.

Nominet’s final 12 months to March 2022 accounts show a loss of £4.4m from sales of £55m, including £8m donations to ‘public interest initiatives’. It had made a profit of £4.5m after donating a similar £7m last year.

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