BOOKMAKER ACCEPTED STOLEN CHARITY MONEY

Bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) have been fined £2.2 million by the Gambling Commission for failing to carry out proper checks on money wagered.

One instance was a total of £894,754 stolen and wagered over a four year period from charity Birmingham Dogs Home by its CEO Simon Price, with the help of his wife Alayna. Price was given a five year prison sentence last year and his wife received a two year suspended sentence. PPB will now pay the stolen money back to the charity.

As part of the fine PPB will pay £1.7 million to charity Gamble Aware, nearly £500,000 to other victims – problem gamblers they allowed to carry on betting with them – and £50,000 for the costs of the investigation.

MOTABILITY LATEST

Mike Betts, CEO of Motability Operations a firm supplying disabled people with vehicles in exchange for their taxpayer funded benefits has announced that he will now heed the multiple calls for him to step down and will do so in 2020.

His announced departure follows a damning report on the way the company has hoarded huge reserves of the taxpayer cash paid to it and the “obscenely high” salaries and bonuses, nearly £3 million including a covered up £2 million in Betts case, paid to its directors. It also follows some seriously good investigative journalism by the Daily Mail newspaper.

The Motability charity was set up by Lord Sterling, who is now its chairman. Sterling was also chairman of P&O when it owned venue Earls Court and Olympia and was investigated by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for abuse of monopoly by overcharging exhibitors there, a highly lucrative activity Sterling fought hard to, and failed to, retain. At this time some publications were infested by unfortunate typographical gremlins that rendered his name, most misleadingly, as Lord Stealing.

MISJUDGMENT

Criticism of Diabetes UK has followed their decision to accept £500,000 in sponsorship from Britvic, makers of the fizzy drinks Tango and Pepsi, which the charity has identified as contributing to the current diabetes epidemic.

Doctors have described the arrangement as “appalling” and as undermining trust in the charity from sufferers of the disease, as well as losing the charity credibility.

There have been calls for the charity’s CEO Chris Askew to give the money back. The funding policy for Diabetes UK states: “No commercial partnership will be entered into with a company whose product or service is considered to be detrimental to those living with, or at risk of diabetes.”

BLOOD MONEY?

Gambling addiction charities have attacked the £265 million salary that founder and joint CEO of online gambling firm bet365 Denise Coates CBE pays herself as “disgraceful” and “obscene”.

Recent articles in the press have listed the misery caused by gambling debts, and the rising number of suicides as a result, as the “terrible price paid” to fund Coates’s income, which makes her one of the highest paid women in the world.

CHARITIES TO LOSE OVER NEW PROBATE FEES

The greatly increased fees charged by the government for probate next year could adversely affect the amount of money left for charities, it is feared.

The new fees will see charges rise from the current fixed £215 to a sliding scale based on the value of the estate. Estates of up to £50,000 are exempt from any charges but estates of £500,001 will pay a £2,500 fee and those of £2,000,000 a fee of £6,000.

According to the Institute of Legacy Management the loss to charities could be as much as £10 million, though this equates to around a third of one per cent of the £2.9 billion left to charities in wills last year, with health and cancer groups being the largest beneficiaries.

THEFT INVESTIGATION

A travel firm in Kent is being investigated by police for theft from a charity after they failed to provide flight tickets to New Zealand that had been paid for by the charity.

Pilgrim Bandits, a charity for injured veterans had bought tickets from Black Tip Travel of Tonbridge for 22 injured servicemen participating in a fundraising cycle ride in October. However, two days before they were due to fly out Black Tip Travel told the charity that no flights were booked due to “simple errors” and a “mix-up” with Emirates airline.

A statement on Black Tip Travel’s website placed by the company’s sole director, Dale Whitney, advises that the company has some “issues” and is “currently getting insolvency advice”.

NEW SUICIDE CHARITY

Two mothers whose 16 year old son and daughter from the same school committed suicide have set up a charity to help make sure their tragedy doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Rose White, mother of Harry and Sarah Finke, mother of Rachel have set up Safaplace at Stoke Newington School using more than £15,000 donated in their children’s memory. The aim is to help teenagers with mental health issues and to this end the money has so far been used to pay mental health experts to give talks to pupils and to train teachers to spot signs of distress.

Both mothers believe much teenage mental illness occurs because of “exam pressure, social media and fear about the future”.

NO JOKE

A comedian has pulled out of a student charity fundraiser at the University of London in January where he had agreed to give his time free, after he was asked to sign a contract banning him from causing offence in twelve separate areas.

The contract sent by politics student Fisayo Eniolorunda, event organiser for the Unicef on Campus society to comedian Konstant Kisin required him to follow the society’s no-tolerance policy regarding racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and ableism, along with homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-religion and anti-atheism. The contract also stated that “It does not mean these subjects cannot be discussed but it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way”. However Mr Kisin, 35, who was born in the Soviet Union took the ban as undermining his freedom of speech, something that he said happened in the Soviet Union, and declined to perform “on a point of principle”.

PUT PASSENGERS FIRST? THAT’S A GOOD ONE AT GOVIA…

There was an “extraordinary complacency about protecting the interests of passengers” among rail bosses, regulators and government officials, notes a damning report on the summer railway shambles, which featured 46,300 timetable changes. Additionally there was a “collective system-wide failure” and a decision-making process that was “not fit for purpose”, one that has now decided that it’s a good time to hike up fares again for captive commuters.

Of course those who rely on the railways to do their jobs don’t need to be told this. They know and they are angry. And one deserving focus of their anger is Govia Thameslink Railway, (GTR) which axed 470 of its 3,880 daily services.

The fallout continues, with GTR, which runs Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern railways, now coming across as a disreputable firm that cannot be trusted to put its wrongs right. We say this noting that passengers completing large numbers of claim forms for Delay Repay compensation, based on the large numbers of delayed journeys they have suffered are being accused of fraud by GTR, presumably to wriggle out of payment. The same nasty taste in the mouth is left noting the claim experience of others who have had their claim forms returned by GTR instructing them to supply details for “journey 1” when “journey 1” doesn’t appear anywhere on the claim form. One victim we know of several unjustified refusals of this kind for the same claim has now been told that the claim has been denied because the delays to its processing, caused by GTR, has put the claim outside the 28-day period for claiming. Clever or stupid?

One potentially good piece of news for passengers who don’t feel their complaints are being treated with the respect due is the creation of a new independent dispute resolution ombudsman for the railways with the power to hold train companies to account and force them out of their “extraordinary complacency”.

Let’s all hope it works, especially at GTR, where the CEO is Patrick Verwer, [email protected]

BOUQUETS, AND BRICKBATS

Impressed to note that charity Diabetes UK has just won the award from the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) for the best conference staged by an in-house conference team, beating the two other shortlisted teams at Renewable UK and the Royal Statistical Society. The Diabetes UK event took place at Excel in March this year and team leader Therese Dolan commented that her team “worked incredibly hard to deliver this year’s event” and that she was “so proud to see them rewarded for all their effort and dedication”.

Rather less impressive for many is the curious decision by Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK to accept sponsorship of £500,000 from Britvic, makers of the Pepsi and Tango fizzy drinks, like those that Diabetes UK has identified in the past as contributing to the diabetes explosion.

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