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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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.

Rip-off professional fundraisers – on BBC Radio 5 live

  1. On 20 December 2015, I appeared again as a live studio guest on 5 live Investigates, the BBC Radio 5 live programme. The programme revisited charity scams involving professional fundraisers with excessive fundraising costs. This was a follow-up to its November 2014 programme when I also came into the studio (see my 10 November 2014 post).
  2. This time 5 live Investigates used my investigation of the “charity” Our Brave Heroes (see my 26 October 2015 post), which also appeared in The Daily Mirror (see my 19 November 2015 post). Presenter Adrian Goldberg interviewed live on air the Blackpool man behind the fake charity, Kristofer Sutcliffe. It didn’t end well for Mr Sutcliffe.
  3. You can listen to yesterday’s episode of 5 live Investigates for four weeks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06skyv5.

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?

Our Brave Heroes in the Mirror

  1. On 19 November 2015, Andrew Penman used my investigation of the “charity” Our Brave Heroes (see previous post) as the lead story for his column in The Daily Mirror. I’m also quoted in his report.
  2. Penman’s Our Brave Heroes report is available on the newspaper’s website: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/another-company-poses-armed-forces-6857665.

Unanswered questions for Our Brave Heroes and First Promotions Limited

  1. In November 2014, someone wishing to remain anonymous brought to my attention the self-described charity Our Brave Heroes. I quickly noticed that the “About Us” page on its website http://www.ourbraveheroes.org at the time presented the registered company number (09225356) as if it was a registered charity number. So the foot of the page then said: “Our Brave Heroes is a charity limited by guarantee. Reg no. 9225356.” (There it now says only: “Our Brave Heroes is a charity limited by guarantee.”) Use of company number in this way is highly misleading. Our Brave Heroes wasn’t a registered charity then; and isn’t now.
  2. First Promotions Limited (registered company number: 09090941) is the official professional fundraiser for Our Brave Heroes. The logo on its website http://www.firstpromotions.org – green “f”, black “p” – is similar to that of Prize Promotions Limited, the discredited Blackpool professional fundraiser, now in administration – green “p”, black “p”: see Figure 4 in my 6 January 2014 post. For a review of Prize Promotions Limited, see my 11 August 2015 post on Targeted Management Limited, another Blackpool company owned by the same person (Tony Chadwick). Also, Prize Promotions Limited raised funds for a similar-sounding North-West military charity: Our Local Heroes Foundation (often shortened to Our Local Heroes). Like Prize Promotions Limited, First Promotions Limited organises prize draws, selling tickets to the public in shopping centres round the UK – and again a rip-off 20% only of the ticket price goes to the charity (screen shot in Figure 1).

    Figure 1. “About Us” page on First Promotions Limited website at 25 September 2015

    Figure 1. “About Us” page on First Promotions Limited website at 25 September 2015

  3. Both Our Brave Heroes and First Promotions Limited hide behind registered office addresses. By law, all UK companies must have a registered office address, the official address for all correspondence from Companies House and HMRC. The registered office address doesn’t have to be where the company conducts its business (the trading address). The “Contact Us” page of the Our Brave Heroes website shows only the registered office address – the Blackpool-based accountants, Crossley & Davis. This is the company that was obstructive and obfuscatory when I contacted it on the express instruction of the founder of the Blackpool-based military charity, A-SOLDIERS-JOURNEY.CO.UK: see my 19 October 2015 post. Again, the “Contact Us” page of the First Promotions Limited website shows only the registered office address – in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear (screen shot in Figure 2). Nevertheless the sole director of the company is linked to Blackpool (see below).

    Figure 2. “Contact Us” page on First Promotions Limited website at 29 September 2015

    Figure 2. “Contact Us” page on First Promotions Limited website at 29 September 2015

  4. The company Our Brave Heroes has three directors, according to Companies House records. Yet only one is named on its website: Gordon Ross (screen shot in Figure 3). On 1 October 2015, I emailed Mr Ross three simple questions about Our Brave Heroes. The evidence in the first question might be connected to why Mr Ross is the only director of the three to be named on the website.

    Figure 3. “Prize Draw” page on Our Brave Heroes website at 1 October 2015

    Figure 3. “Prize Draw” page on Our Brave Heroes website at 1 October 2015

  5. “FIRST QUESTION: Your fellow directors, Justine Sutcliffe and Laura Teresa Sutcliffe – is either or both related to Kristofer Sutcliffe, sole director of First Promotions Limited?”
  6. “SECOND QUESTION: I refer to the PDF file on the “Grant Application Form” page of your website: http://www.ourbraveheroes.org/forms/. Document properties of the PDF file were viewed from within Adobe Reader by clicking File on the main menu bar, and then selecting Properties. The Description tab of the Properties dialog box reveals the document author. Why is Kristofer Sutcliffe the document author?”
  7. “THIRD QUESTION: Is Kristofer Sutcliffe of First Promotions Limited the same Kristofer Sutcliffe in the following three reports in The Blackpool Gazette? http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/local/lies-led-to-arrest-1-4542197 (“Lies led to arrest”, 12 May 2012); http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/local/false-claim-liar-in-sentence-reprieve-1-4804006 (“False claim liar in sentence reprieve”, 4 August 2012); http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/community/community-news/bully-said-he-would-chop-ex-s-head-off-1-7077791 (“‘Bully’ said he would chop ex’s head off”, 29 January 2015).”
  8. Not receiving a response from Mr Ross, I sent a follow-up a week later (8 October 2015). That day I also sent a message to Mr Sutcliffe at First Promotions Limited, enclosing my first message to Mr Ross. There I asked whether Mr Sutcliffe might answer the three simple questions about Our Brave Heroes and First Promotions Limited. At date of publication I haven’t received a response from Mr Ross to either of my two messages. On 15 October 2015, I sent a follow-up to Mr Sutcliffe. Again, at date of publication I haven’t received a response from Mr Sutcliffe to either of my two messages.
  9. The unresponsiveness of both Our Brave Heroes and First Promotions Limited is unacceptable. My three simple questions are legitimate.
  10. Mr Sutcliffe is currently sole director of First Promotions Limited only – as “Kristofer Sutcliffe”, that is. But the 4 August 2012 report in The Blackpool Gazette names him as “Kristofer John Sutcliffe”. In that guise, Mr Sutcliffe was sole director of two other companies, both dissolved 21 October 2014, according to Companies House records. One used the same registered office address as First Promotions Limited. The three reports in The Blackpool Gazette all make clear that Mr Sutcliffe lives in Blackpool (or at least did at the date of the reports). His reported age each time is consistent with date of birth at Companies House, which is the same for both versions of his name.
  11. There are recent newspaper reports of First Promotions Limited being kicked out of shopping centres once people realised Our Brave Heroes isn’t a registered charity. In April 2015, it was told to leave St Catherine’s Walk Shopping Centre, Carmarthen, Wales, according to the Carmarthen Journal: http://www.carmarthenjournal.co.uk/Questions-raised-fundraising-activities/story-26401038-detail/story.html. The newspaper printed an update September 2015 where Mr Ross says Our Brave Heroes has applied to the Charity Commission to become a registered charity: http://www.carmarthenjournal.co.uk/Armed-forces-fundraisers-vow-return/story-27799979-detail/story.html. In October 2015, it was expelled from Fareham Shopping Centre, Fareham, Hampshire, according to the Southern Daily Echo: http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/13892404.Fundraisers_kicked_out_of_shopping_centre_over_charity_status_concerns/; and the Portsmouth News: http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/fareham-shopping-centre-kicks-group-out-after-complaints-1-7029167. Again, Mr Ross tells both newspapers that Our Brave Heroes has applied to the Charity Commission to become a registered charity.
  12. It’s bad enough Our Brave Heroes once used its company number to create the impression that it’s a registered charity. That apparent deliberate deception alone raises serious questions about the honesty and integrity of the people involved. But it’s a matter of public record that the sole director of First Promotions Limited has twice been convicted by a court of a criminal offence – and jailed on both occasions. Further, the first conviction was for a criminal offence involving dishonesty. Honesty and integrity are essential in both running a charity and fundraising. Finally, it’s unclear whether Our Brave Heroes and First Promotions Limited are really independent of each other.