2010: Save the Children
Justin Forsyth and Brendan Cox were appointed to the board of Save the Children. Forsyth was the former Director of Strategic Communications for Gordon Brown. Before that, he was a Special Advisor on environmental and international development for Tony Blair. His ex-Labour government colleague Brendan Cox appointed Director of Policy was previously a special advisor in Gordon Brown’s cabinet team. In 2012 the organisation was in financial trouble. Lacking funds it was forced to conduct its first-ever public fund-raising campaign in Britain.
Forsyth left Save the Children to take up the post of Deputy Executive Director at Unicef from which he was forced to resign following media revelations about his mishandling of a former subordinate’s sexual misconduct and his own previous behaviour when it was revealed that when Chief Executive of Save the Children he faced three complaints of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff. The complaints included sending inappropriate texts and commenting on what young female staff were wearing.
He was also accused in 2015 of mishandling allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against his close ally and subordinate at Save the Children, Director of Policy, Brendan Cox. Save the Children said the complaints against Cox were investigated in accordance with its procedures and confirmed that Cox had been suspended and a disciplinary process began but he had resigned before it was completed. Cox has since quit the two charities he set up in memory of his late wife Labour MP Jo Cox. (The New Humanitarian)
2014: Ex-Labour SPADS campaigning against the government via charities
Save the Children caused quite a stir after deciding to award former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, with a “Global Legacy” award. An online campaign was started, demanding that they revoke the award, stating that it was inappropriate because of the role he played in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was also raised that the Chief Executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth, used to be a special adviser (SPAD) to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The charity has been criticised in the past for its support of Oxfam in its highly politicised campaign against the government.
Part of the rules that govern which charities are given charitable status, which includes generous tax relief and the ability to claim extra money from the treasury via Gift Aid, is that they remain politically neutral and do not get involved with political campaigning. This raises an interesting question: Can somebody who was so involved with the previous government really put aside their own personal politics and become politically neutral for the sake of their job? Just how many former labour SPADS are now involved with charities or think tanks? The two charities covered in this article, Oxfam and Save the Children fit the bill. (save-planet-earth-world-globe-map-children-around-world-30468826)
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod)
Cafod appointed Damian McBride former spin-doctor for Gordon Brown to the post of Head of Media after he was forced to resign his position following allegations posted to a political blog that he and another prominent Labour Party supporter, had exchanged emails discussing the possibility of disseminating rumours McBride had fabricated about the private lives of some Tory Party politicians and their spouses. McBride returned to the Labour Party in 2014 as its Head of Political Strategy for the Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Aveco)
Head of the charity bosses’ trade body, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, Sir Stephen Bubb was a Labour Party member of Lambeth Borough Council for Clapham Town ward from 1982. He was chairman when the Labour group protested against rate capping by refusing to set a rate and was among 32 Lambeth councillors who were surcharged for causing the council a financial loss by wilful misconduct. An action that disqualified him from being a councillor for five years from the end of March 1986. He came under scrutiny in August 2013 after it was reported that his 60th birthday bash in the House of Commons had been partly financed by ACEVO. And this despite the charity paying him a salary in excess of £100,000, In his defence he stated: “it seemed just right to celebrate my 60th with a tea party in the House of Lords on Monday”.
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
The Director of the NSPCC, Peter Watt was previously Labour’s General Secretary. He resigned following the revelation that he knew that a property developer David Abrahams had donated almost £600,000 to the Party through third parties over four years. Under the law, those making donations on behalf of others must give details of who is providing the money.
Royal Society of the Arts (RSA)
Matthew Taylor was the Director of the left of centre think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research between 1998 and 2003. In 2003 Tony Blair appointed him head of the Number 10 Policy Unit and gave him the task of drawing up the Labour Party’s manifesto for the May 2005 General Election. Following the re-election of the Labour government, he became Chief Adviser on Strategy and was involved in several initiatives engaging the public with the political process. He also had a key role in developing the Labour Party’s “Big Conversation” discussion forums. In 2006 he was appointed Chief Executive of the charity, the RSA, enlightenment, apolitical organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to social challenges.
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA)
Formed in part thanks to the vision of Oscar-winning director David Puttnam, who recognised the UK’s failure to capitalise on its globally recognised talent for innovation and invention. The country was poor at turning inventions into marketable applications.
In an effort to reverse this, the UK’s first-ever publicly supported national endowment was created with £250 million of National Lottery funding (later supplemented, in 2006, with a further £75 million of Lottery funding drawn down over five years).
The idea was that a secure income source would enable greater risks to be taken with UK-based innovations, which could be backed over the long term without being at the behest of government funding cycles and shifts in the political wind.
Geoff Mulgan who was a special adviser to Gordon Brown from 1990 to 1992 when he was shadow Trade and Industry secretary described himself as ‘the Clinton campaign’s link to Labour, which involved lots of telephone calls with the Americans’. He was also part of a 1995 ‘secret committee’ led by Peter Mandelson ‘to examine policy changes, that were central to the modernisation of the Labour Party.
The group had been set up just before Blair flew to meet Rupert Murdoch in 1995 was officially described as outside experts ‘helping to write sections of speeches and background papers’ for the Labour leader. But some senior MPs noticed that the committee was actually an exclusive policy-making forum.
Mulgan went on to discharge a number of key roles in the Labour Government between 1997 and 2004 including director of the Government’s Strategy Unit and head of policy in Tony Blairs’s office. He was appointed Chief Executive of Nesta in 2010. Under his leadership, in April 2012 it became an independent charity and its focus shifted towards innovation for public benefit as it concentrated its policies on tackling social problems in the public and voluntary sectors. He was awarded a knighthood in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his work to advance social innovation.
International Rescue based in New York is supported financially by the UK, the US and other governments and billionaire, & political manipulator, George Soros.
David Milliband, President and Chief Executive of “International Rescue” based in New York from 2010, cost the charity £1m in his first year (taking into account his £300,000 salary, relocation fees and other costs, together with the costs of importing his sidekicks, Ravi Gurumurthy and Ollie Money, his former political strategist and PR man.
Miliband has never come cheap. In one year as the MP for South Shields in South Tyneside, he grossed £288,000 in outside earnings on top of his parliamentary salary of £65,000.
In 2018 the organisation hushed up 37 sex abuse, fraud and bribery allegations leading to the Department for International Development cutting off funding based on claims of fraud, bribery and sexual misconduct among groups awarded funds.
Tony Blair and the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI)
With offices in presidential departments in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Liberia and Guinea Blair expanded his AGI empire to include oil-rich South Sudan and appointed David Brown, who worked for five years under him to head up the South Sudan operation.
Blair and his AGI charity faced questions over his and its role as advisors to Malawi President Joyce Banda following a corruption scandal dubbed as ‘cashgate’ which forced Britain and other Western donors to withhold budgetary aid. Tory MPs and campaigners in Malawi demanded to know whether Blair and his team had been aware of the corruption allegations. They also wanted to know whether Blair had been warned about corruption and if so what he did about it. If his team was ignorant, it raised embarrassing questions about what AGI’s “governance” programme was meant to achieve. (The Telegraph)
Oxfam was reported by the Tory Party in 2014 to the Charity Commission, for publishing a faux film poster, headed “Lifting the lid on austerity, Britain reveals a perfect storm and it’s forcing more and more people into poverty.” Showing a broiling sea under clouds titled: The Perfect Storm. Added were the words “starring zero-hours contracts, high prices, benefit cuts, unemployment, childcare costs”. And a post on Twitter which invited readers to hear how Oxfam “investigated the reasons why so many people were turning to food banks in Britain 2014”.
The late Jo Cox, former “Head of Policy” at Oxfam, was previously an advisor to Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah and also worked for Baroness Kinnock, whose husband Neil was the leader of the Labour party between 1983 and 1992. Also worthy of note is that David Pitt-Watson, Oxfam’s honorary treasurer, was also a special advisor (SPAD) for over 20 years and was Assistant General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1997 to 1999. (Civil Society)
2014; The Office of Sarah and Gordon Brown
Piecing together some 133 declarations made in Gordon Brown’s parliamentary register of interests, a picture of the until-now private accounts of the company, the “Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown” revealed that “The Office” is not a registered charity, it is a private limited company.
Brown declared to parliament that the total amount paid to the company since 2010 was £3,605,197. According to a recent announcement on the company’s website £912,702 has so far been given to charity. This leaves over £2 million to be accounted for when according to the latest available records the company had only £160,978 in cash at the bank. You can see an itemised spreadsheet here: (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m06erj5LpOktUV3g95ePimcArREmJWR8VZhQxxKXmOo/edit?pli=1#gid=0)
The company admits it budgets £550k-a-year for expenses to meet salaries, accommodation costs and staff expenses.
Brown can be paid as much as $100k for a single speech to investors at finance conferences in the US. And by funnelling his speaker fees through the company he avoids tax on his income, even though it covers the £10k weekly expenses for Gordon and Sarah to maintain the jet-set premier lifestyle they were accustomed to when in Downing Street, travelling first class around the world and staying in top five-star hotels attended to by flunkies. Something Gordon would not be able to do on his backbench MP’s salary (http://order-order.com/tag/wheres-gordon/page/2/)
2014: Sarah Brown and the Global Business Coalition for Education charity
In 2009 when he was Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said: “The old tax havens have no place in this new world. We now call on all countries to apply international standards,” a statement worthy of highlighting since his philanthropist wife made an odd choice of the home for her charity.
Sarah Brown is the founder and Executive Chair of the charitable organisation whose members include heavyweights such as Accenture, Chevron and Tata. The organisation admirably aims to bring “the business community together to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth”.
But the GBCfE is based in one of the most secretive tax jurisdictions in the world. Delaware, a state affectionately known by tax lawyers as “the Cayman Islands of North America”.
The charity’s registered office is 1209 North Orange Street, a single-storey building that is the legal address of 285,000 businesses according to the New York Times.
The New York Times profile said that 1209 North Orange Street is home to “big corporations, small-time businesses, rogues, scoundrels and worse”.
What might have drawn Sarah Brown to such an infamous site in so controversial a state? And is there enough desk space at 1209 to house more than a quarter of a million tenants? Should Sarah Brown be more patriotic and back the British tax system, which treats recognised charities very generously indeed.
(Q) Why, if it is a charity would it need to be registered in a tax haven? (A) Perhaps it is not actually registered as a charity – at least not in the UK.
Many celebs register their “charities” in Delaware because their annual filings are kept confidential and there is little or no oversight. So if saving the planet requires travel via private jet, luxury accommodations, staff of well-paid flunkies and so on, no one’s the wiser. UK Charities risk having their operations and accounts scrutinised by the Charity Commissioner and Delaware is even dodgier than the Dutch Antilles or Panama for funny money.
The high profile Trust runs a national network of food banks. Chris Mould joined the Trust in 2003 and was later appointed Chairman. He left in January 2018 to concentrate on his work with the Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion which operates in The Balkans as well as in Bulgaria.
But there is more to the Trussell Trust and Mould than meets the eye. Full story here: (https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/well-trousered-philanthropists-tory-party-chums-and-food-parcels-for-poor/)