BY LIZ HALL
On the 8th November in 2018 I was listening to The James O’Brien Show on LBC Radio. The DJ James O’Brien was interviewing a lady who was introduced as the CEO of a Homeless Charity in the South West of England. You can still listen to the interview on the LBC website, alongside an article stating:
She spoke passionately to James O’Brien of her work helping a nine-year-old girl who called up her charity essentially begging for work because her family didn’t have enough money. The girl had revealed to the charity CEO that her mother had died and her father had lost his job and she wanted any kind of job to help her family – cleaning the floor, cleaning dishes. The CEO admitted she “broke down in tears at receiving such a heartbreaking call”.
The interview was very moving indeed.
I remember feeling upset and angry after hearing this segment. This was a Dickensian tale yet set in modern day Britain. How could this be happening in our country in 2018? It was a situation I kept thinking about during that day. The LBC website began to fill up with comments from people like me who were so angry at the May Government for the continuing austerity which had apparently allowed this to happen to the girl and her siblings. Then all the Labour trolls piled in having a go at nasty Tories.
The following day I paid a considerable sum of money towards a public crowdfunder set up for the girl. I am just a single Mum on a nurse’s salary but I admit that I was beginning to feel guilty about being relatively well-off compared to this 9 year old girl’s family. James O’Brien had called the Homeless Charity CEO the “most admirable person I can remember speaking to” and listeners were directed via the LBC website to the crowdfunder, which had been set up by a man from the homeless charity. The crowdfunder went on to raise an impressive £33,023.00, while direct donations spiked to the charity on account of the story. The story was splashed across the news pages of multiple well-known newspapers giving it increased credibility.
Now I feel sick.
I am sorry to report that the nine year old girl never existed.
I know that for certain now. I have been shown the evidence and I have talked to multiple witnesses. Some of these witnesses warned LBC within days of the interview airing but were ignored.
I was conned, as were the many other people who heard the LBC interview and coughed up money to the crowdfunder. Looking back I now see the smoke from the fire and I am kicking myself. Why would any nine year old telephone a homeless charity looking to clean dishes in the first place?
Thanks to the BBC I now know that the charity CEO stands accused of giving clothes to her partner – clothes which were donated to her charity. I now know that there is a Charity Commission investigation into her homeless charity alongside a fraud investigation and (again, thanks to the BBC) that according to an independent examination by accountant David Cook, “no records have been kept (by the charity) to match the record of the donations received to the deposits made”. I now know that there are multiple affidavits by people working at the charity at the time the 9 year old girl was alleged to have called – signed by people who know she didn’t call. I now know that when those involved in the crowdfunder were asked who the girl was, there was no name given. I now know that items donated to the girl, including toys, were kept by a member of staff from the charity. And I also know from a Children’s Services insider that at that time various social services departments from that area and counties nearby called the charity for details of the girl so they could help her but none were provided to these agencies, who all believed and continue to believe to this day that the girl never existed.
Yes, I am angry. I am really bloody angry. This scam was the work not of the “most admirable” people at all. It was conjured by lowlife, yoking the power of the national press and radio to profit maximise their scam.
Not only do I want my money back, as I am sure do all the others who were duped into donating money to this fictitious girl, I want James O’Brien to apologise on air for leading people into a mindset where donating to the crowdfunder seemed the right thing to do. I do not for one minute accuse Mr O’Brien of being in on this fraud at all – he clearly had no idea the 9 year old was fake and that he was being conned too. I would just like O’Brien to be clear that his judgement has failed many people on this occasion, it has cost them hard-earned cash and – in his attempts to be seen as a holier-than-though Do-Gooder, forever making the Government out to be callous and harsh – O’Brien has unwittingly misled many other members of the public who did not donate but used the story as ammunition for bashing the incumbents. It has become clear that the charity CEO has been a vocal supporter of Corbyn’s Labour to which her Facebook page testifies.
As James O’Brien has admitted recently, his faith in humanity is not what it was after feeling misled by the multiple Grenfell survivor fraudsters. Again, O’Brien needs to eat humble pie on this fake nine year old case and confess – as he fell for Carl Beech – to occasionally being a rotten judge of people. I reiterate that he and LBC need to publicly apologise for their gross error of judgement, the interview and consequent article – and should immediately pass all original recordings to the police. The other publications who wrote about this case – the Metro and the Sun – also need to swiftly apologise, as does the crowdfunding website without which the scam would not have been perpetrated.
Those with testimonies similar to mine related to this crime should contact the Charity Commission or the police so that justice can be done. It’s important these matters are dealt with speedily as the area where this homeless charity operates has a desperate homeless problem and many needy homeless clients.
Thanks in prospect, James, for doing the decent thing – for your upcoming announcement. By showing your disdain for what has happened and making this story better known to the public, justice can be expedited. Alas, there is much more soon to seep out…