Charity Commission opens statutory inquiry into Support The Heroes – and appoints interim manager

  1. On 27 January 2017, regulator the Charity Commission announced that it has opened a statutory inquiry into charity Support The Heroes (STH; registered charity number: 1155853) and appointed an interim manager: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/interim-manager-appointed-support-the-heroes.
  2. I first wrote about STH on 21 April 2015, exclusively exposing in my first post almost all the issues the commission says it wants the inquiry to investigate. That year, too, I revealed more about the unacceptable lack of clarity and transparency around the military charity and its business model (see my 11 August 2015 and 25 November 2015 posts, in particular). In its press release the commission says, rightly, that it has “serious concerns about an agreement that the charity has entered with a commercial fundraising company.” That unnamed company is Targeted Management Limited (TML; registered company number: 09036445) – a Blackpool firm incorporated in May 2014, whose activities this blog has exclusively exposed.
  3. TML worked with another military charity based in the north west, the notorious Our Local Heroes Foundation (OLHF; registered charity number: 1142029). The Charity Commission announced on 8 November 2016 that it has, finally, opened a statutory inquiry into OLHF, too (see my 23 December 2016 post and references therein).
  4. But it’s worse than that, as regular readers will know. Prior to working with TML, OLHF used the services of another discredited professional fundraiser, Prize Promotions Limited (PPL; registered company number: 07829587). And before PPL was the official professional fundraiser for OLHF, the company had this role for failed military charity Afghan Heroes (AH; registered charity number: 1132340). I first wrote about PPL and its role with AH in January 2014, just after the Charity Commission announced in December 2013 that it had opened a statutory inquiry into AH. That inquiry continues.
  5. Oh, PPL and TML are owned by the same person: Tony Chadwick of Blackpool.
  6. Three linked military charities – AH, OLHF and STH. Each is now the subject of a live statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission. On 2 October 2016, Andrew Gilligan in The Sunday Times reported my work on Mr Chadwick’s companies and the three linked charities (“Veterans miss out on charity millions as fundraiser keeps up to 80% of cash”). There he named me as the source and included quotes (see my 3 October 2016 post, which includes a link to Mr Gilligan’s newspaper article and the context). On 13 November 2016, Remembrance Sunday, the Mail on Sunday on its front page reported that the Charity Commission has ordered the opaque STH to stop all fundraising (“Shame of Poppy Day profiteers”): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3930982/Shame-poppy-day-profiteers-Charity-banned-crackdown-raised-3million-gave-just-250-000-heroes.html. As you can see, I’m named and quoted in the front-page story.
  7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I’m grateful to the Walter Mitty Hunters Club HQ, a Facebook group, for its interest in my work on STH, and help publicising it. The group first contacted me about the charity in December 2015 (email). The Walter Mitty Hunters Club HQ: https://www.facebook.com/The-Walter-Mitty-Hunters-Club-HQ-315222931946839/.
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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?

Targeted Management Limited: censorship and secrecy

  1. There is a lack of clarity and transparency about new company Targeted Management Limited (TML) and its role(s) for two military charities in the North-West, Our Local Heroes Foundation (OLHF) and Support The Heroes (STH). There is also a lack of clarity and transparency about each charity itself: its business model and costs of working with TML. Here I show why I consider this to be deliberate opacity.
  2. TML of Blackpool (company number: 09036445) is owned by the same person as Prize Promotions Limited (PPL), the discredited professional fundraiser now in administration (company number: 07829587). This blog has exclusively revealed how PPL has consistently misled the public across the UK in its rip-off fundraising activities, often working illegally. STH (registered charity number: 1155853) is the third “heroes” military charity linked to Tony Chadwick and his companies. So PPL was official professional fundraiser for first Afghan Heroes (AH; registered charity number: 1132340) and then OLHF (registered charity number: 1142029). I first wrote about PPL and its role with AH January 2014, just after the Charity Commission announced December 2013 that it had opened a statutory inquiry into AH. That inquiry continues. On 9 November 2014, I appeared as a live studio guest on 5 live Investigates, the BBC Radio 5 live programme. There we exposed PPL and its work for the two military charities. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/our-local-heroes-foundation-to-stop-working-with-prize-promotions-limited-on-bbc-radio-5-live/) OLHF had told BBC Radio 5 live then that it would stop working with PPL – only to still be working together December last year. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/man-conned-into-buying-a-prize-draw-ticket-in-the-name-of-our-local-heroes-foundation-video/). It’s worse than that, though. OLHF was still working with PPL April 2015, it seems, according to the official listing of the OLHF stand at the Gadget Show Live 2015 exhibition, the NEC Birmingham: http://www.gadgetshowlive.net/Exhibitor/Prize-Promotions-Ltd-1. PPL is named in the link, as you can see. In February 2015, I wrote that TML, Mr Chadwick’s new company, was now involved with OLHF. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/from-prize-promotions-limited-to-targeted-management-limited/) There I alleged that TML was a professional fundraiser for OLHF.
  3. In April 2015, I repeated the allegation that TML is or has been a professional fundraiser for OLHF – in my first post on new charity STH. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/revealed-the-hidden-blackpool-company-presenting-itself-as-charity-support-the-heroes-to-recruit-paid-fundraisers/) I didn’t allege that TML has or had any role with STH. That post drew a response (email) from STH trustee Pauline White, which I promptly and happily published in full without being asked. (https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/email-from-support-the-heroes-dated-5-may-2015/) There Ms White said TML is a “management” company, not a professional fundraiser.
  4. I first made the allegation that TML was a professional fundraiser for OLHF in good faith, carefully with evidence. The evidence? An announcement from founder Steve Pearson on the OLHF website dated 19 February 2015, which I linked to. There Mr Pearson published the results of “the first prize draw” organised by TML on behalf of his charity. Professional fundraiser PPL had previously organised prize draws for OLHF. Given both companies apparently perform the same role here – an ostensibly independent company organising prize draws on behalf of OLHF – I inferred that TML, too, was a professional fundraiser. In other words, this is an operational definition of “professional fundraiser”.
  5. OLHF has again recently redesigned its website. The charity has now removed Mr Pearson’s announcement dated 19 February 2015 on TML and “the first prize draw”.
  6. I’d also archived the OLHF web page, again providing a link in my 3 March 2015 blog post. Yet the charity has now made an intervention which means that the archived web page is no longer publicly available, either. So clicking the link in my 3 March 2015 blog post produces the message on the Internet Archive (archive.org): “Page cannot be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt.” OLHF has now set up a robots.txt file for its website: http://www.ourlocalheroes.org.uk/robots.txt. This is a two-line text file, as you can see. The first line is “User-agent: *”; the second line: “Disallow: /”. This robots.txt file instructs all robots to stay out of the website. The Internet Archive follows the instructions in robots.txt, including retroactively, as the site’s FAQs page makes clear. Hence now the unavailability of the archived web page.
  7. Not only is there censorship via robots.txt and disappearing web pages. But also secrecy on the OLHF website: there is currently nothing about TML and its role(s) anywhere. Searching the OLHF website for “Targeted Management” using the site’s search function produces no hits, either. Similarly, the STH website: there is currently nothing about TML and its role(s) anywhere.
  8. Remember: we only know that STH works with TML from Ms White’s response (email) to my first post on her charity. My post prompted STH to disclose – to me, at least – TML’s involvement.
  9. There is important, new and independent evidence on the role(s) of TML for OLHF: the report in The Blackpool Gazette newspaper 6 July 2015, “Collector stole cash donated to war heroes.” (It’s available on the newspaper’s website: http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/crime/collector-stole-cash-donated-to-war-heroes-1-7343277) I highlight three facts there. First, thief Simon Lacey “worked for the company Targeted Management which collected funds for the Our Local Heroes Foundation.” Second, he “disappeared with money collected from merchandise sales and donations for the Bamber Bridge-based Our Local Heroes Foundation.” Third, Mr Lacey “went all over the country raising money for the charity.” So TML raises funds for OLHF by selling merchandise and collecting donations around the country, according to the report. Sounds familiar: professional fundraiser PPL, too, had previously raised funds for the charity by selling merchandise and collecting donations around the country.
  10. TML therefore appears to perform or have performed on behalf of OLHF some or all of the same activities as predecessor PPL. Yet unlike PPL, it isn’t a professional fundraiser. TML is a “management” company.
  11. There is deliberate secrecy when TML recruits staff, too. The company consistently withholds its name when advertising posts on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website, for example. TML is the company shown as “confidential” in the Universal Jobmatch job ad for a charity fundraiser in my 29 April 2015 blog post, screen shot in Figure 2 there, a Freedom of Information request to DWP confirmed. Further, the charity isn’t identified in the job ad, either.
  12. One difference between TML and PPL: the “management” company actually has a website; PPL has never had one. Yet targetedmanagement.com is laughably vague and unconvincing: none of the “wide range of organisations” for which TML allegedly provides “a range of management services” is identified by name or business sector, for instance.
  13. What is the motivation for the censorship and secrecy? It is reasonable to consider this to be deliberate opacity. There is a need for clarity and transparency about TML and its role(s) for OLHF and STH. For each charity, there is also a need for clarity and transparency about its business model and costs of working with TML. The money flows in and around OLHF and STH should be disclosed.

Company endorsing Support The Heroes not registered at Companies House

  1. The company that new charity Support The Heroes (registered charity number: 1155853) publicly thanked so effusively for its support isn’t registered at Companies House. This fact further undermines the credibility of the military charity.
  2. My last post described how Support The Heroes thanked on Twitter 9 April 2015 Soul Consulting, “a unique business development company”, for its support. The tweet from Support The Heroes embedded a misleading tweet from the company – misleading because it appeared to confuse Support The Heroes and Help for Heroes (registered charity number: 1120920), the high-profile military charity. In particular, the Soul Consulting tweet used the hashtag #helpforheroes. Publicly thanking the company for such a questionable tweet raises serious questions about the charity.
  3. But it’s worse than that. Soul Consulting isn’t registered at Companies House. There is a dissolved company of that name (company number: 07525882) – dissolved 18 September 2012, without filing any accounts.
  4. On 12 May 2015, I rang the landline phone number on the company’s website, soulconsulting.co.uk, to check. “Emma” answered – though I don’t know whether it was Emma Tickner, who is listed as “founder & director” of Soul Consulting. Perhaps it was one of the “managers” the company says will shortly be in touch if you complete the online contact form. Anyway, she asked whether I meant VAT number when I said I couldn’t see a company number on the Soul Consulting website. “No”, I said, “Where is the company number from Companies House?” “There isn’t one”, “Emma” replied, adding quickly: “We’re new, very new”. Oh.
  5. The charity is responsible for both its tweets and their contents. That Soul Consulting isn’t registered at Companies House further undermines the credibility of Support The Heroes.

Confusing Support The Heroes and Help for Heroes: a revealing tweet

  1. One concern about new charity Support The Heroes (registered charity number: 1155853) is the similarity of its name to Help for Heroes, the high-profile military charity. My reasonable suspicion is that the similarity is intentional, as I wrote in my 21 April 2015 post, not coincidental. Here I report a tweet from Support The Heroes that reinforces this suspicion.
  2. The charity’s official Twitter is @supportthheroes. On 9 April 2015, Support The Heroes tweeted: “Thank you very much for your support”, embedding a tweet from company Soul Consulting, @ticknersoul (screen shot in Figure 1).

    Figure 1. Support The Heroes tweet dated 9 April 2015 (capture at 9 May 2015)

    Figure 1. Support The Heroes tweet dated 9 April 2015 (capture at 9 May 2015)

  3. Soul Consulting is “a unique business development company”, according to its website, soulconsulting.co.uk.
  4. Soul Consulting’s tweet, dated 8 April 2015, records an apparent donation to Support The Heroes (screen shot in Figure 2). The charity is explicitly referred to via @supportthheroes. What the tweet says next raises serious questions about the new military charity: “…helping these heroes get the right support and help they need #helpforheroes”.

    Figure 2. Soul Consulting tweet dated 8 April 2015 (capture at 9 May 2015)

    Figure 2. Soul Consulting tweet dated 8 April 2015 (capture at 9 May 2015)

  5. Use of “helping” and “help” with “heroes” is highly likely to mislead the public. It resembles and therefore evokes Help for Heroes (registered charity number: 1120920). Yet the hashtag is even worse: it actually says Help for Heroes – #helpforheroes.
  6. Help for Heroes’ official Twitter is @helpforheroes.
  7. The misleading tweet is from Soul Consulting, “a unique business development company”. Not only did Support The Heroes publish it on its official Twitter page. But the charity explicitly endorsed the tweet it embedded: “Thank you very much for your support”. Support The Heroes is responsible for both its tweets and their contents.

Email from Support The Heroes – dated 5 May 2015

  1. Please read my two posts on Support The Heroes, a new military charity (registered charity number: 1155853). First: https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/revealed-the-hidden-blackpool-company-presenting-itself-as-charity-support-the-heroes-to-recruit-paid-fundraisers/ (published: 21 April 2015). And then: https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/call-dave-to-work-for-charity-support-the-heroes-more-evidence/ (published: 29 April 2015).
  2. On 5 May 2015, I received an email from the charity, signed by one of the trustees, Pauline White. Mrs White is listed as public contact for Support The Heroes on the Charity Commission website. Here is her email in full:

 

“Dr Alex May

We have received a copy of your blog posted on April 21, 2015 and quite frankly were amazed and upset with much of its content, especially the inaccuracies and innuendos.

Firstly:- our business relationship with Tony Chadwick stems from the fact that he is Managing Director of Targeted Management Limited (TML) which, as the name implies, is a management company and not a ‘professional fundraiser’ as you state. We are contracted with TML to perform certain functions which we decided to outsource (not having any paid employees – all of our five Trustees are unpaid). One of TML’s primary functions is the recruiting, supervision and training of self-employed sales personnel who are employed by Support The Heroes (Fundraising) Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Support The Heroes CIO). The foregoing should explain all of your points 2,3,4 and 5 and I refer you in particular to point 4 where I would bring to your attention that ‘Dave’ (whatever it says in his linked in profile) is employed by TML.

In points 1, 6 and 7 you mention at least 4 times that we do not mention working with a professional fundraiser. This is because we don’t (see paragraph 2).

As for your comment re the Twitter page not showing the full name (your point 10) this is due to the fact that only fifteen characters are allowed (we are surprised that you were not aware of this)

Our website, which is still in its early stages and is being provided free of charge did not display a landline telephone number and we thank you for bringing this to our attention. This is being remedied.

As mentioned above Support the Heroes (Fundraising) Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Support The Heroes CIO and not (as you mention in your point 12) Mrs White’s company. In fact the whole of your point 12 is absolute nonsense. Of course the Charity pre-dates its subsidiary – how else could it be? You appear to be misguided or at best naïve about charity company structures. Ours is as advised by the Charities Commission, our specialist charity solicitor and our accountants Moore & Smalley who are highly regarded within charity circles.

At point 14 you state ‘I don’t understand why the Charities Commission allowed the name’ I suggest you take this up with them directly.

Your final point 16 categorically states that ‘Tony Chadwick isn’t independent of the charity trustees. In short, it is reasonable to question the legitimacy of Support The Heroes’ this is untrue and clearly defamatory. We are taking immediate legal advice regarding this statement in particular.

We are amazed (one of your favourite words) that you either did not think of, or decided to ignore, contacting us directly before publishing, or checking the facts which are in the public domain. It appears to us that your objective is to become a latter day Ralph Nader but you seem to primarily cause mischief rather than seek out the truth. I am sure that there are many rogues out there purporting to be acting as legitimate and charitable ‘fundraisers’ and should you decide to spend your time and efforts sorting the wheat from the chaff then the result should be of value.

Should you cause our Charity ill-will or any financial loss due to, either our ability to obtain new sites for fundraising (or any site where we have prepaid being withdrawn) or loss of existing sales personnel or difficulty in recruiting then we will not hesitate to further instruct solicitors to seek redress and take any action deemed necessary to protect our reputation and position within the charity community.

In the meantime we will continue to go about our legitimate and worthwhile charitable activities.

Pauline White

On behalf of Support The Heroes CIO”