Humanity & James O’Brien

BY NICK PEARCE

On the 8th November 2018, James O’Brien, a DJ from LBC, unwittingly promoted a con. One of the victims of the con wrote an article in this magazine in January of this year detailing her experiences.

The con centred around a homeless charity called Humanity in Torbay, Devon. The charity at the time was run by a certain Mrs Ellie Waugh. Waugh spoke passionately to James O’Brien of her work helping a nine-year-old girl who called up her homeless charity essentially begging for work because her family didn’t have enough money. The girl had revealed to the charity CEO Waugh 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, washing dishes. Waugh announced how she “broke down in tears at receiving such a heart-breaking call” from the nine-year-old. O’Brien declared Waugh the “most admirable person I can remember speaking to.”

Since that call was made and since O’Brien’s very public declaration of admiration, certain facts have become clear:

  • £30,000.00 to £70,000.00 was raised by the con, mostly using a crowd funder that O’Brien promoted live on his radio show on LBC.
  • The 9-year-old girl certainly never existed. Think about it – why in the first place would a nine-year-old girl telephone a small homeless charity office in Torquay without a kitchen service looking for dish-washing jobs? She was made up by money-hungry Waugh.
  • Social services from local areas have confirmed they tried in vain to get in touch with the girl. Volunteers and staff at Humanity all confirm they asked Waugh who the girl was and where she lived but Waugh (and the colleague who set up the crowdfunder) remained tight-lipped and evasive.
  • Gifts that were donated to Humanity Torbay for the girl and her siblings – dolls, toys, clothes etc – were seen by multiple persons months later in Waugh’s home in Brixham.
  • A journalist from a mainstream newspaper pleaded with Waugh to get in touch with the girl’s parents. She fobbed the journalist off and then begged a male friend – who confirmed as much and is recorded on the newspaper log – to pretend to be the father and tell the journalist not to “ever bother the family again”.
  • The charity Humanity in Torbay was dreadfully run by Waugh. An accountant’s report showed that the charity did not even keep a record of donations, some of which (£50,000 +) were taken in cash.
  • Waugh had previously offered clothes, donated by the caring public to the charity, to her then partner – a story covered at the time by the BBC.
  • Certain vulnerable adults, who were deemed homeless and could not receive benefits without an address or bank account, relied on Waugh to receive state monies on their behalf and never saw or received those monies. As vulnerables, Waugh openly declared to one colleague “they would make for useless witnesses in court”.
  • An alleged anti-Semitic “fire-bombing” of Waugh’s “locked” Mini, acquired through the charity, was yet another staged incident and part of Waugh’s pursuit of victimhood – standard behaviour, alongside projection, for a serial bully. The fire started inside the car according to an employee of the emergency services who attended the scene.
  • Humanity Torbay’s social media accounts were used to convey political messages – unfit behaviour for a charity.  

The Charity Commission was already investigating the highly partisan political campaigning and the financial disarray of Humanity Torbay. As a consequence of a new wave of complaints by former staff, charity clients, officials and others, the Charity Commission then launched a second investigation into the charity in July. This investigation was headed by their professional investigator from the monitoring and enforcement department, Mr Soames Shillingford.

To cut a long and sordid story short, Waugh and her husband, a trustee, then quickly stepped down from the Charity, while other trustees ran for the hills and began openly criticising Waugh for running the charity as a ‘personal fiefdom’ and ‘her family piggy bank’. The police became involved and under section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 Shillingford wrote to informants and witnesses in late summer informing them that a statutory enquiry had been opened by the Charity Commission – in other words, a formal investigation was underway.

In the meantime, hoping that Covid or hiding in plain sight might miraculously save her bacon, Mrs Waugh set up a somewhat batty “non-government, non-charity community group” aimed at offering help to the homeless and to expose “the devastating impact of Universal Credit and Conservative policy on millions of vulnerable people”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this new entity has not assisted the homeless of Torbay at all. During various outbursts Waugh risibly claims to be the victim of a political witch-hunt because she backed Jeremy Corbyn. Waugh has publicly suggested that her ongoing downfall is nothing to do with creating fake nine-year-old pauper girls and is all to do with a Government conspiracy; that there is (excuse the choice of words) no evil in Waugh.

Judging by the complaints that were sent to the Charity Commission and which have been copied to the police – seen by this magazine – this sordid tale shall roll on. For the interest of readers, talking generally, the Charity Commission are not a prosecuting authority and any criminal matters that they identify they are obliged to report to the Police.

As the Charity Commission polish off their report, all eyes turn now to Devon & Cornwall police, as well as to Thames Valley police who handled the calls related to the O’Brien/LBC complaint. In a downtrodden place like Torbay – a vipers’ nest that has suffered decades of appalling local government by third-class troughers and “only in Torbay” is a common phrase on the street – the police have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to show local residents that charity fraud is unacceptable.

Mrs Waugh and her co-conspirators should now recognise that truth has caught up with them. They should go and illuminate the authorities about their behaviour. Or perhaps LBC – who like to “lead Britain’s conversation” – would like to hear a public confession? (You’re better off calling Nick Ferrari’s show then you may get a word in edgeways).

Meanwhile an O’Brien apology? Saint James is never wrong! Carl Beech anybody? Blaming the deaths of others on a listener suggesting kids return to school after lockdown? You expect someone as omniscient as Mr O’Brien to know when to seek forgiveness?

Dream on!