TERRORIST ATROCITY TRIGGERS NEW CHARITY

The grieving Australian parents of a 21 year old woman who was one of seven killed at London Bridge and Borough Market last June have founded a charity in her name.

Sara Zelenak had been “having the time of her life” in London, and working as an au pair before she was killed by three Islamist terrorists wearing fake suicide vests who ran through Borough Market stabbing and slashing at those drinking and eating there before being shot dead by police. Sarz Sanctuary is, according to parents Mark and Julie Wallace their daughter’s legacy to London and will help those affected by terrorist incidents cope with their grieving.

MOTABILITY EXPOSED

The Daily Mail has been praised for exposing the greed of those running the Motability charitable scheme whereby vehicles are supplied to disabled people in exchange for their state mobility allowance. The firm had amassed £2.4 million of public money in unspent funds and claimed the money was badly needed as a cushion against business risks, while its chief executive, Mike Betts was drawing £1.7 million a year and £26 million was being spent on refurbishing its offices.

The figures triggered a number of official inquiries and one has resulted in Motability now agreeing to release £500 million of its reserves to aid the disabled people it was set up to help.

STEALING FROM CHARITIES

o A six year jail sentence has been handed down to Nadia Ali, finance officer for charity The Carnival Village Trust, for stealing £784,000 of its funds. Ali, 34, paid the money into her own accounts over a two year period, and disguised the transfers as payments to suppliers and government bodies, stealing invoices to cover her tracks. She admitted fraud by abuse of position.

o A one year jail sentence has been handed down to Akbar Siddiqi, a fundraising organiser for the Tooting Rotary Club after he pocketed £7,500 of funds intended for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Siddiqi, 29, had been made a signatory to the club’s charity fundraising bank account and had stolen from it using a cash card.

MALE SUICIDE DROPS

The number of male suicides last year dropped to 4,382, the lowest since data was first recorded in 1981, against a total suicide toll of 5,821.

More efforts to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health may be having an effect say the Samaritans, but point out that men are still three times more likely to take their own lives.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.

BIG GAIN FOR OXFAM

The death of Richard Cousins, 58, the multi-millionaire CEO of catering firm Compass has resulted in a £41 million payment of most of his fortune to Oxfam.

Mr Cousins died with his two sons, his fiancee and her daughter and his pilot when their plane plunged into the Haweksbury river near Sydney, Australia on New Year’s Eve last year. A year before this he had inserted a “common tragedy clause” into his will, which meant that if he were to be killed with his immediate family, which he was the charity would receive most of his fortune.

Earlier this year, and after Mr Cousins had died, senior Oxfam executives were found to be using Oxfam money to pay for prostitutes in Haiti, resulting in thousands of cancelled donations.

MOBILE PHONE SCAM?

Charity Citizens Advice are advising all those with mobile phones and a “bundled” contract for handset, data and call charges to check whether or not their minimum contract period has expired.

The warning comes after the charity discovered that millions of customers were still paying out for a handset they already owned, an average of £22 a month, after the minimum contract period, which covers the cost of the handset, had expired. The charity estimates that nearly £500 million has been paid to mobile phone companies in this way and has named Vodaphone, EE and Three as beneficiaries.

The charity found that in 75% of cases it would have been cheaper for the customer to buy the handset separately from other charges. Watchdog Ofcom wants to require mobile phone companies to tell their customers when they are nearing the end of their contract term.

ABANDONED AT CHARITY SHOP

The RSPCA are looking for a person who cruelly abandoned an eight-week old border terrier cross puppy in a hand bag, with its paws tied tightly with an elasticated hairband, outside a charity shop in Greenford, Middlesex.

The puppy, named Radley by the RSPCA, was trussed up in the bag with an unopened tin of dogfood and a note that said “Found this dog”.

AUDIO VISUAL FIRM BETRAYED

Audio visual and event production company Big Purple Productions were defrauded out of more than £200,000 by their trusted office manager Amanda Toward, who has now been jailed for three years and four months after admitting the fraud.

Toward used her position in the company and her control of its finances to embezzle the money by making duplicate payments of actual payments made and paying the second payments into her bank account, the court heard. The use of the money included funding a reported six bottles of wine a day habit, expensive holidays in Mexico, a Range Rover and paying to be pictured with celebrities. Continue reading

NOISE OF KILLING

A wealthy aristocrat with links back to Sir Frances Drake faces a noise abatement order over the lucrative organised game bird and clay pigeon shoots he arranges on his 2,500-acre South Downs Hampshire estate.

At Portsmouth magistrates court the noise level created by the regular shoots of William Tyrwhitt-Drake was described by an acoustic expert, Peter Rogers, after 15 visits to the site while shoots were in progress as “substantial” and “intrusive” and at a level that would result in planning permission not being granted. The court case was brought by a millionaire neighbour, Dr Charles Gillies O’Bryan-Tear.

STAY IN A BIT OF HISTORY

Those who like to walk in the footsteps of the famous and infamous have been given a list of hotels in history by the Mail on Sunday.

These include the Hotel National in Moscow, where Lenin stayed in room 107 for the first meeting of the Soviet government after the 1918 Russian Revolution; the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin where the 1922 signing of the Constitution of Ireland took place in room 112; The Plaza Hotel, New York, where The Beatles stayed in Presidential Suites 1209-1216 in 1964 for their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show; The Watergate Hotel, Washington, where the theft of documents that brought down President Nixon was organised from room 214; Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, now a hotel, where Secretary of State for War John Profumo met showgirl Christine Keeler, who was skinny-dipping in the pool in July 1961.

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, the West Midlands Police and ghost hunt event company Haunted House have been charged with being “distasteful and insensitive” after they promoted a charity Halloween ghost hunt event which included a chance for delegates to sleep in 12-foot square cells in the custody block where killer Fred West was once held. Since the outcry the reference to West has been removed from the event promotional material.