Father and son employed by Young Gamblers Education Trust

  1. A controversial problem-gambling charity now employs a father and son, I can reveal. Previously, the son, who’s also a freelance photographer, was appointed by the charity to snap its recent symposium. Although apparently unpaid that day, the charity is listed as a “previous client” on his photographer website. The charity wouldn’t disclose how many applications it received for the son’s new paid role.
  2. The Young Gamblers Education Trust (trading name: YGAM) is a national charity whose mission is “to inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling and social gaming” (registered charity number: 1162425). It was founded by chief executive Lee Willows. Registered as a charity in June 2015, YGAM has been criticised for its closeness to the gambling industry (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/aug/19/britains-newest-gambling-addiction-charity-funded-industrys-gala-bet365-paddy-power). The trustees at the date of the newspaper report (August 2016) included people working for gambling and gambling-related companies. Further, the charity accepted and continues to accept funding from the industry; and works with various “corporate partners”. These include gambling giants Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair and Bet365, among others.
  3. In response to the bad publicity around the direct involvement of gambling executives in its management and administration, YGAM has refreshed its board of trustees, including appointing a new chair, Rachel Jones, with effect from 1 November 2017. None of the now seven trustees, all volunteers, discloses any involvement with the gambling industry: the board is “fully independent,” says the website.
  4. Fine, but YGAM now employs a father and son, Adrian Sladdin and Charles Sladdin. Adrian, director of education, is self-evidently a senior member of staff (screen shot in Figure 1). Son Charles is data & impact officer (screen shot in Figure 2). The particulars for Charles’ role reveal it reports to his father: data-and-impact-officer. Cosy.

    Figure 1. Adrian Sladdin: YGAM director of education at 1 November 2017

  5. Data & impact officer is a paid role, as the job ad on the YGAM website shows (screen shot in Figure 3). It’s identified as a funded post in the new organisational structure as well (see below).

    Figure 2. Charles Sladdin: YGAM data & impact officer at 1 November 2017

  6. What’s more, before recruiting Charles in that role, YGAM appointed him to photograph its symposium, which took place on 7 September 2017 at City, University of London. Charles is a freelance photographer, too (screen shot in Figure 4). His website in that role bears the somewhat immodest slogan: “Smart photographer. Even smarter photographs.”

    Figure 3. Job ad for YGAM data & impact officer at 1 November 2017

  7. Lee, London” may be right: “Charles is a young man with a huge talent and an absolute eye for detail when it comes to photography… Get in touch with him today, you will not be disappointed.” Nevertheless selection by Lee’s YGAM of Charles as “principle (sic) official photographer” for its event raises questions about nepotism.

    Figure 4. Charles Sladdin, photographer: “what my previous clients have said” at 1 November 2017

  8. Mr Willows told me in an email Charles was unpaid as snapper that day. Yet YGAM is listed as a “previous client” on his photographer website.
  9. Adrian Sladdin wasn’t involved in the recruitment process for the data & impact officer, at least according to Mr Willows. Fine, but the chief executive himself, of course, issued a glowing testimonial for Charles after he photographed YGAM‘s symposium. His testimonial indicates it’s reasonable to suggest he was biased in Charles‘ favour when later recruiting him for the paid position – even before we consider Charles is the son of Mr Willows‘ colleague, Adrian.
  10. Mr Willows disagreed in an email: “I help all our volunteers in different ways and there is no connection to this gesture of thanks and his appointment in YGAM.”
  11. When I raised the fact the particulars for Charles’ role show he reports to his father, the chief executive replied YGAM had consequently changed its organisational structure. He provided a revised chart depicting the new organisational structure, also now available on the website.
  12. YGAM wouldn’t tell me how many applications it received for the data & impact officer post. Mr Willows only said in an email: “We have lots of interest for all positions in YGAM and all positions are advertised on our website; on average we have 14 applications for everybody (sic) role.”
  13. YGAM has clearly improved its governance, or at least created that impression, with the new board, including a new chair. The charity is now less close to the gambling industry – in terms of the trustees anyway. This should surely improve YGAM’s credibility. It still receives funding from gambling firms, though. Indeed, the charity aims to sign up five new “corporate partners” in the current financial year 2017-18, according to the latest trustees’ annual report, for 2016-17. The recent decision revealed here to employ the son of a senior member of staff is concerning. What’s more, the son in his paid role reported to his father until a reorganisation. Nepotism, actual, potential or perceived, only undermines the charity’s credibility.
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Dr Brexit erroneously declared unpaid role at TaxPayers’ Alliance on the register of MPs’ staff

  1. Holders of parliamentary passes as MPs’ staff are required to declare only paid roles on the register of MPs’ staff. Yet an influential Brexit campaigner working for a Conservative MP erroneously declared an apparently unpaid role at the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), the campaign group.
  2. The declaration failed to state the role is unpaid. It isn’t self-evident from the job title – research fellow – it’s unpaid, either.
  3. Dr Lee Rotherham declares two roles, both at thinktanks, on the latest register of MPs’ staff (at 2 November 2017). He’s executive director at Veterans for Britain and director at The Red Cell. His MP sponsor is John Hayes, Conservative, who’s Minister of State at the Department for Transport.
  4. Dr Rotherham was director of special projects at Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign in the 2016 EU referendum. Previously he’d been an adviser to Business for Britain, the eurosceptic campaign group established in 2013 by Matthew Elliott, who later became Vote Leave chief executive.
  5. In early 2016, Business for Britain had to repay a £50k grant itd received from charity the Politics and Economics Research Trust (PERT), after intervention by regulator the Charity Commission (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/09/vote-leave-chief-matthew-elliott-repays-charitable-grant-anti-eu-dossier-charity-commission). PERT itself is linked to the TPA (see 15 February 2016 post): indeed the charity was founded in October 2006 as the TaxPayers’ Alliance Research Trust, before changing its name a year later. Mr Elliott was PERT‘s founding company secretary, resigning in February 2010.
  6. On 20 November 2017, the Electoral Commission announced it’s opened an investigation to establish whether Vote Leave Limited, Mr Darren Grimes and/or Veterans for Britain breached campaign finance rules in relation to spending at the 2016 EU referendum. The commission says it has “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence may have been committed”. In May 2016, Vote Leave donated £100k to Veterans for Britain, according to the Electoral Commission online database.
  7. Because of the new investigation, it’s appropriate to scrutinise the links between Vote Leave and Veterans for Britain. Dr Rotherham, of course, was director of special projects at Vote Leave; and is currently executive director at Veterans for Britain.
  8. In the three years 2013-2015, Dr Rotherham, who tweets as “DrBrexit,” declared his research fellow post at the TPA. Here’s the register of MPs’ staff at 30 May 2013: register at 30 May 2013. The declaration continued into 2014, as the register at 26 June 2014 shows: register at 26 June 2014. And into 2015, too: see the register at 30 March 2015, for example: register at 30 March 2015. The declaration had vanished by 29 September that year, though: register at 29 September 2015.
  9. In February 2017, Dr Rotherham told me in an email his role as a research fellow at the TPA is an unpaid honorary one. (He still appears on the TPA website as a research fellow at date of publication (screen shot in Figure 1). As you can see, there continues to be no indication his is an unpaid role.) When I asked why in the first place he’d declared the post given it was apparently unpaid, the self-styled “veteran eurosceptic” wrote in March 2017: “Excessive diligence!”
  10. Nevertheless holders of parliamentary passes as MPs’ staff are required to declare only paid roles on the register of MPs’ staff. Thus anyone would reasonably infer Dr Rotherham had been paid by the TPA when he declared his research fellow role there. Dr Brexit says he wasn’t, which means his declaration was inaccurate.
  11. Neither Mr Hayes nor John O’Connell, TPA chief executive, responded to requests for comment in February 2017.

Figure 1. Dr Lee Rotherham: research fellow at the TaxPayers’ Alliance at 22 November 2017

BBC staff handling Freedom of Information Act matters hide their names and won’t explain why

  1. Recently, I had reason to make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the BBC. It refused my request for information, so my experience of the BBC Information Rights team wasn’t a happy one.
  2. Here I won’t say anything more other than all emails in the series I received from the BBC on this matter failed to disclose names. Everyone hid behind the sign-off BBC Information Rights. There’s an obvious irony in the BBC’s non-disclosure given the subject matter.
  3. What’s worse, the BBC was unaccountable on its lack of transparency. I asked in an email why staff names are withheld in this way. But answer there came none (at date of publication).
  4. The BBC says on its website it “welcomes feedback from the public on all aspects of our handling of Freedom of Information Act matters. Let us know your views.” Well, I did – and the broadcaster simply ignored my email with the question about its non-disclosure.
  5. On FOI, of all things, it’s difficult not to conclude the BBC is an opaque and unaccountable organisation.

What Charles Moore failed to disclose about “wonderful” charity Style for Soldiers

  1. On 30 October 2017, Charles Moore wrote about “wonderful” charity Style for Soldiers in his notebook column in The Daily Telegraph newspaper: Daily Telegraph 30 Oct 2017. But he failed to disclose something relevant – colleague Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph fashion director, is a trustee of the charity that provides bespoke clothes for wounded soldiers.
  2. The “Fashion Journalist of the Year” hasn’t just become a trustee. Ms Armstrong was a founding director – that is, trusteewhen the charitable company was incorporated on 13 November 2012, according to Companies House records (registered company number: 08291711). The Charity Commission public register of charities confirms her as a trustee (registered charity number: 1161119).
  3. It may be “wonderful” as former Telegraph editor Mr Moore says, but Style for Soldiers seems to be confused about the difference between patron and trustee. Ms Armstrong is identified as a patron on the charity website (screen shot in Figure 1). Shirtmaker Emma Willis set up Style for Soldiers.

Figure 1. “Patron” Lisa Armstrong: Style for Soldiers homepage at 2 November 2017

  1. This isn’t the first time the military charity has appeared in The Telegraph, however. On 17 December 2016, for example, Ms Armstrong wrote a gushing profile of founder and trustee Ms Willis in The Daily Telegraph, nominating her as woman of the year for her achievements with Style for Soldiers. Here’s the online version: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/brands/meet-emma-willis-tailor-helping-injured-soldiers-regain-confidence/. Hardly an unbiased nomination. Yet the fashion director didn’t declare her own role at the charity, so readers had no idea of the ridiculousness of the situation.
  2. Almost exactly a year before, meanwhile, then chief reporter Gordon Rayner reported on Style for Soldiers in The Sunday Telegraph (20 December 2015). Again, here’s the online version: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12058116/Style-For-Soldiers-how-a-charity-has-used-bespoke-clothes-to-restore-wounded-soldiers-confidence.html. Mr Rayner, you won’t be surprised to learn, failed to mention colleague Ms Armstrong. What’s more, an editorial that Sunday, too, plugged Style for Soldiers again saying nothing about the fashion director‘s position there.
  3. The Telegraph has given lots of publicity to Style for Soldiers, almost always failing to declare Ms Armstrong‘s involvement with the charity. Columnist Mr Moore is only continuing the tradition.
  4. Mr Moore hasn’t responded to requests for comment at date of publication.

Dr Louise Newson and Allison Pearson exposé in Private Eye

  1. The current issue of Private Eye (1456) reports my Dr Louise Newson and Allison Pearson exposé (see 10 October 2017 post).
  2. Private Eye is the UK’s number one best-selling news and current affairs magazine.
  3. You won’t find the report – or much else from the magazine – on the Eye website because the online presence is minimal. Here is a scanned copy of the page from my subscription copy: Private Eye 1456.

Sanofi UK subsidiary: accounts one month overdue – why?

  1. How strange: The accounts of a UK subsidiary of Sanofi, the French multinational pharmaceutical company, are one month overdue at Companies House at date of publication. Sanofi UK won’t say why.
  2. Aventis Pharma Ltd’s accounts made up to 31 December 2016 were due at Companies House by 30 September 2017, the company register shows (registered company number: 01535640).
  3. Sanofi UK, based in Guildford, Surrey, hasn’t responded to a request for comment at date of publication.

Willow Foundation: a growing charity with excessive – and increasing – fundraising costs

    1. A growing national charity that provides “special days” for seriously ill young adults has excessive – and increasing – fundraising costs.
    2. The Willow Foundation (registered charity number: 1106746) was founded in 1999 by former professional footballer and TV presenter Bob Wilson and wife Megs in honour of daughter Anna, who died of cancer the year before. The couple are now life presidents. The charity has tens of celebrity supporters, or ambassadors, as the website calls them.
    3. In the last five years alone the number of special days has grown by 65%,” trumpets the latest trustees’ annual report (TAR) and accounts, made up to 31 December 2016. So in 2012 there were 775 special days, and 1279 last year. The number increased year-on-year as well over the last five years. Impressive growth. What happened, though, to Willow’s income and fundraising costs over the same period? (Table 1)
Table 1. Willow Foundation 2012-2016 (GBP m)
Year Income Fundraising costs Number of special days
2012 2.11 1.06 (50%) 775
2013 2.32 1.21 (52%) 842
2014 2.79 1.55 (55%) 981
2015 3.37 2.30 (68%) 1029
2016 4.29 2.97 (69%) 1279
      1. Income first. Increasing year-on-year, too, it more than doubled between 2012 and 2016: from £2.11m to £4.29m. In other words, income rose faster than special days.
      2. So why hasn’t the charity actually provided more special days? Well, there’s a clue in the fundraising costs. Again increasing year-on-year, these nearly trebled between 2012 and 2016: from £1.06m to £2.97m. Fundraising costs, then, shot up even faster than income.
      3. But it’s not as if fundraising costs were low in 2012. That year at £1.06m they represented 50% of income (£2.11m), a high proportion already. And again this proportion has only ratcheted up year-on-year. Astonishingly, for each of the last two years, 2015 and 2016, almost 70% of funds raised in the name of seriously ill young adults have been swallowed up as fundraising costs. That’s right, almost 70%.
      4. Willow justified the 2015 jump in fundraising costs as a boost to investment, saying in that year’s TAR it would enable “a planned major growth of charitable activity over the subsequent three years.” The charity thus created the impression the 2015 jump would be a one-off, “to prepare for long-term growth.” So it’s disappointing fundraising costs in fact ticked up in 2016. Last year’s TAR fails to address this directly, though, only identifying the “substantial” increase in event fundraising costs: from £0.49m in 2015 to £1.14m. This upsurge, it writes, was due to “a larger number” of events than the year before. But what the charity fails to say is the 2016 events clearly didn’t raise as much as hoped.
      5. In fact, the latest TAR implicitly acknowledges this: in 2017, the charity plans “to further lessen our reliance on events income which will help to improve Willow’s overall return on fundraising investment.” But note the “further”: the same TAR told us there’d been more events in 2016 than the previous year!
      6. It’s instructive to compare fundraising costs at a national charity with a similar business model, Make-A-Wish Foundation UK (registered charity number: 295672). Make-A-Wish UK grants “wishes” to “children and young people” with life-threatening illnesses. For four of the last five years, its fundraising costs have been around 30% of income (Table 2). In 2016, there was an increase to 40% of income. Yet nothing like the figures at Willow.
    Table 2. Make-A-Wish Foundation UK 2012-2016 (GBP m)
    Year Income Fundraising costs Number of wishes
    2012 6.29 1.78 (28%) 916
    2013 6.40 1.87 (29%) 893
    2014 7.44 2.00 (27%) 872
    2015 9.94 2.94 (30%) 855
    2016 7.03 2.87 (40%) 984
      1. This year Willow “hopes” to provide 1400 special days, according to the 2016 TAR. A laudable aim. Nevertheless fundraising costs of almost 70% of income are self-evidently excessive. Regardless of the exact number of special days, Willow must surely drive down fundraising costs, if it’s to retain public trust and confidence.
      2. Willow hasn’t responded to a request for comment at date of publication.