Our Brave Heroes: fake military charity is no more, says Charity Commission

  1. On 16 March 2017, regulator the Charity Commission published a highly critical “case report” on Our Brave Heroes, a fake military charity from – yes, you’ve guessed it – Blackpool. It’s no longer operating, says the commission. Here is the Charity Commission case report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-brave-heroes-case-report.
  2. It’s taken a while, though: I exclusively exposed Our Brave Heroes on 26 October 2015.
  3. Andrew Penman in The Daily Mirror newspaper then used my investigation as the lead story in his column on 19 November 2015 (see my post that day for a link to his article online). At the end of that year Our Brave Heroes also featured on 5 live Investigates, the BBC Radio 5 live programme, when I appeared again as a live studio guest (see my 21 December 2015 post).
  4. Mr Penman has today (16 March 2017) revisited Our Brave Heroes after the commission’s intervention: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/collectors-brave-heroes-told-generous-10032216.
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The Invicta Foundation: what is the trading address of official professional fundraiser EMS?

  1. The Walter Mitty Hunters Club HQ, a Facebook group, has this week exposed the Colchester-based charity The Invicta Foundation (registered charity number: 1143326) as yet another military charity working with a rip-off professional fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/The-Walter-Mitty-Hunters-Club-HQ-315222931946839. These rip-off professional fundraisers not only have excessive fundraising costs, but usually work in highly misleading ways. They often create the impression that donors are dealing directly with the charity, wearing charity-branded uniforms. The public isn’t always aware that the collectors in shopping centres and other private sites are actually working for a third-party company – a company that retains for itself 80% of the funds it raises in the name of the charity. This blog has exclusively exposed many of these dubious military charity/professional fundraiser combos. It has exclusively revealed, too, the fact that so many organisations with this business model are from in or around Blackpool.
  2. Here I show that co-founder and public contact Stephen Robertson hasn’t suddenly become unwilling to answer legitimate questions about his charity and its official professional fundraiser. In April 2016, he was obstructive and evasive, refusing to tell me the trading address of the company it works with. What’s worse, he still wouldn’t disclose the information after I’d proven the link between the company and another Blackpool-based professional fundraiser – yes, Blackpool again – that has faced scrutiny for its business practices.
  3. The Invicta Foundation works with Events Management Solutions (EMS) Ltd (registered company number: 09807577), which was incorporated on 3 October 2015. The EMS website lists the company’s registered office address, which is in Birmingham. The trading address, though, isn’t shown. In April 2016, meanwhile, EMS was recruiting a “charity fundraiser” on the Indeed jobs website – from Lytham St. Annes FY8, next to Blackpool (screen shot in Figure 1). So at that time I first asked Mr Robertson for the address of EMS in Lytham St. Annes FY8. He refused to tell me.

    Figure 1. EMS job ad for “charity fundraiser” at 12 April 2016

    Figure 1. EMS job ad for “charity fundraiser” at 12 April 2016

  4. I then made the same request after proving the link between EMS and the company The Veterans Trust Limited (registered company number: 08945478). Andrew Penman had exposed professional fundraiser The Veterans Trust Limited in his Daily Mirror column in November 2014: the then Lytham St. Annes-based company had declined to reveal its fundraising costs, only divulging the alleged total amount of money it had passed to its then charity partner after raising money in its name. In December 2015, The Veterans Trust Limited changed its name to TVT Fundraising Ltd. Michael Figg is sole director of the company. Mr Figg was also a director of TVT Publications Ltd (registered company number: 09515278), which was incorporated on 27 March 2015. The registered office address was in Lytham St. Annes FY8. Initially, there was another director of TVT Publications Ltd: Nick Travis, the person behind Sterling Support, the official professional fundraiser for the notorious Blackpool-based military charity Families of the Brave. Both the Mirror’s Andrew Penman and I independently exposed Families of the Brave and its work with Sterling Support in 2014 (see my 20 December 2014 post and references therein).
  5. There’s a link between TVT Publications Ltd and EMS. Sean Smythe is sole director of EMS. And Mr Smythe posted a job ad for “magazine/wristband fundraisers” on the Birmingham Jobs Facebook page in the name of TVT Publications Ltd from Lytham St. Annes FY8. The ad is dated 13 April 2015 (screen shot in Figure 2).

    Figure 2. Sean Smythe job ad for TVT Publications Ltd at 12 April 2016

    Figure 2. Sean Smythe job ad for TVT Publications Ltd at 12 April 2016

  6. On 13 September 2016, TVT Publications Ltd was compulsorily struck-off the register at Companies House without filing any accounts. So much for its financial reporting – or lack of. Meanwhile, days later (on 21 September 2016), Mr Figg started another TVT Publications Ltd (registered company number: 10388268) – this time with a registered office address in Kirkham, a town midway between Blackpool and Preston.
  7. So it was a simple question for Mr Robertson in April 2016: what is the trading address of your official professional fundraiser? And he wouldn’t answer. But then he’s not the only one hiding the address: the EMS website isn’t forthcoming either. There isn’t actually much on the company website: no names of people, for instance. We only know about sole director Mr Smythe because of filings at Companies House. As we’ve repeatedly seen, there’s an unacceptable lack of clarity and transparency around money flows for these charities working with rip-off professional fundraisers. Yet on its website The Invicta Foundation doesn’t disclose the trading address of its official professional fundraiser – and won’t even do so upon request. Now, why doesn’t the charity want the public to know the details of the company?

A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK in the Mirror

  1. On 18 August 2016, Andrew Penman used my investigation of the charity A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK (see previous post) as the lead story for his column in the Daily Mirror.
  2. Penman’s A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK report is available on the newspaper’s website: http://www.mirror.co.uk/incoming/soldiers-journey-charity-shuts-row-8651056.

Daily Mirror’s Andrew Penman uses another of my investigations

  1. On 7 July 2016, Andrew Penman used my investigation of unregistered charities on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website (see previous post) in his column in The Daily Mirror. I’m also quoted in his report.
  2. Penman’s report (“Charities should register for site”) doesn’t seem to be available on the newspaper’s website. Here therefore is a scanned copy of the page: Penman OGA.

Our Brave Heroes: one of worst cons of 2015, says Mirror

  1. In his last column for 2015 in the Daily Mirror, Andrew Penman round up the worst scams he’d written about during the year. His column is weekly.
  2. Penman first wrote about fake charity Our Brave Heroes in November last year after I’d brought to his attention my investigation (see my 19 November 2015 post). He wrote again about the Blackpool-based scam in his end-of-year round-up, published 31 December 2015. That column is available on the newspaper’s website (dated 30 December 2015): http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/you-vital-fight-beat-fraud-7095694.

Email from Support The Heroes – dated 5 December 2015

  1. Please read my previous post published 25 November 2015.
  2. On 27 November 2015, I emailed Support The Heroes inviting a public response to that post about the charity and the Daily Mirror report (19 November 2015). I said I’d publish its response in full on the blog.
  3. On 5 December 2015, I received an email from Pauline White, public contact and a trustee for Support The Heroes. Before her response, three points about what she wrote.
  4. First, it is important to note that Ms White fails to refer to Prize Promotions Limited – though my post explicitly identified the discredited professional fundraiser and its relation to Targeted Management Limited, an opaque company working with Support The Heroes. The omission is unacceptable. Both Blackpool companies are owned by the same person, Tony Chadwick. This is a simple fact anyone can check on Companies House records.
  5. Second, Ms White refers to the charity’s first accounts, for financial year ending 31 March 2015. These are now available on the Charity Commission website. But there is no mention of Targeted Management Limited in the accounts, so there is still a lack of clarity and transparency about the company and its role(s) for Support The Heroes. As I wrote in my 11 August 2015 post on Targeted Management Limited, the money flows in and around the charity – including the company – should be disclosed.
  6. Third, turning to the actual statement from Support The Heroes that I challenged in my 25 November 2015 post: the charity has now deleted the post from its official Facebook page, it seems. Anyone can still read it though: see the screen shot in my previous post.
  7. Here is Ms White’s email in full:

Dr May 5 December 2015

I received your email of 27 November inviting me, on behalf of Support The

Heroes charity, to respond to your latest blog ‘Support The Heroes: a

statement that must be challenged’ with regard to the points which relate

to us.

You state that our response to a Facebook query by Mark Bishop concerning

an article appearing in the Daily Mirror, penned by Andrew Penman, on 19

November headed ‘Another company poses as armed forces charity to rifle

aid for injured soldiers’ and relating to the section ‘Armed forces

charities’ – the roll-call of shame’ was false. We challenge your

accusation, stand by our statement and suggest you provide us with

evidence of a link between any of the charities/companies mentioned

therein.

You then, at clause 5, mention that ‘nothing about Chadwick and any of his

companies appear on the charity website and as at 25 November 2015 there

is still nothing about Targeted Management Limited’ you then accuse us of

hiding the involvement of the company. On this point I refer you to my

email of 5 May 2015, posted on your blog 8 May 2015, in which I give in

detail our relationship with Targeted Management Limited.

We would like to bring to your attention that your blog, due to your

unfounded and untrue accusations, has caused us considerable damage. Our

teams, and even staff at the venues where we operate, have been verbally

abused, threats have been levelled at us and for our own safety we have

had to temporarily discontinue our charitable activities. We have many

ex-service personnel working as fundraisers whose jobs could now be in

jeopardy

Our Charity, numbered 1155853, was registered with the Charities

Commission in February 2014. Our financial statements are posted on the

Charities Commission website albeit the filing date was January 2016.

Our financial statements including details of our donations are also

published on our website http://www.supporttheheroes.org.uk

During the period we donated £15,120 to PTSD Resolution for counselling of

PTSD sufferers, £2,500 to NGVFA The National Gulf Veterans and Families

Association which covered the cost of a respite break for six wheelchair

bound veterans and six carers, £2,400 to The Queen Alexandra Hospital Home

in Worthing to fund two months neuropsychologist services enabling

residents with complex neurological disabilities to live with a lower

level of frustration and anxiety and £1500 to Blind Veterans UK. We still

had £46,000 available for future donations the most recent being £7138.99

going to The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal 2015 representing 100% of

donations and 100% of profits made from sales activities from the 26th

October to the 8th November 2015.

Our Trustees have not received any financial remuneration, benefit or

expenses from the Charity or connected business, hardly the actions of a

dubious charity’ or an organisation trying to ‘hide’ anything.

We would be more than happy to meet face to face and try to understand

your concerns and to ease any doubts you may have regarding our charity

and its probity.

As you stated ‘I’ll publish your response in full on the blog’ I look

forward with interest to reading same.

Pauline White

Trustee”

 

Support The Heroes: a statement that must be challenged

  1. At 25 November 2015 the charity Support The Heroes (registered charity number: 1155853) has a statement on its official Facebook page that must be challenged (screen shot in Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Support The Heroes official Facebook page at 25 November 2015

    Figure 1. Support The Heroes official Facebook page at 25 November 2015

  2. In response to a query from Mark Bishop dated 21 November 2015, the military charity publishes the link for Andrew Penman’s report on Blackpool “charity” Our Brave Heroes in The Daily Mirror last week (see my previous post). Support The Heroes says: “We can confirm that this is NOT US and we have no links to any of them.” But that is false.
  3. As you can see, Penman doesn’t refer to Our Brave Heroes only. He lists five other dubious military charities/good causes linked to Blackpool, under the headline “Armed forces ‘charities’ – the roll-call of shame”. Failed charity Afghan Heroes (registered charity number: 1132340) is one. As Penman says, Prize Promotions Limited of Blackpool was its official professional fundraiser. The discredited professional fundraiser is now in administration (company number: 07829587), as I revealed in January.
  4. As this blog exclusively reported, the owner of Prize Promotions Limited, Tony Chadwick, has a new company now working with further military charities. It’s called Targeted Management Limited (company number: 09036445). And, as regular readers know, Support The Heroes is one of the charities (see my 11 August 2015 post on Targeted Management Limited).
  5. I exposed the link between Chadwick and Support The Heroes in my 21 April 2015 post. I noted then that there was nothing about Chadwick and any of his companies on the charity website. And at 25 November 2015 there is still nothing about Targeted Management Limited there. Support The Heroes continues to hide the involvement of the company. Why?