DERBYSHIRE, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance has welcomed a High Court ruling closing down companies that operated a misleading charity collection.
Three connected firms were shut down in the public interest by the High Court in London following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.
Claire Marshall, Air Ambulance (DLRAA) Director of Fundraising, said: “We are delighted that this action has been taken and these companies have been closed down. They were purporting to be supporting local Air Ambulances and misleading supporters across the counties we cover and further afield for some time.
“As a registered charity we rely on additional funds such as our clothing bag scheme to keep on flying and saving lives. It has therefore been upsetting that companies like these were misleading the general public and confusing them over who they are actually donating to.
“DLRAA does operate a legitimate clothing collection scheme in partnership with DB Collections which provides vital income for us. I would like to take this opportunity to urge people to continue to support our life saving work, and be vigilant against any other potentially misleading clothing collection schemes in the future. The only ways to know your donations are going to your local Air Ambulance is to donate through our official bags, bearing our official charity number 1098874 or by donating in person to our high street charity shops in Belper, Bakewell, Ashby, Wigston, Hinckley and Oadby.”
The investigation found the three companies, primarily operating in the Midlands, made misleading representations that the proceeds raised from the onward sale of unwanted clothing would be donated to local air ambulance charities. The reality was this did not happen. Due to the failure of all three companies to maintain adequate accounting records, it is not known what became of any proceeds generated through the sale of clothing items collected by the companies. No evidence of donations made to any Air Ambulance Charity was found.
Commenting on the case, investigation supervisor, David Hill, said: “In winding-up these companies, the court is sending a clear message that schemes which set out to deliberately mislead the public in this manner are not acceptable and will be closed when we become aware of them”.
The investigation also found the companies operated in a similar manner, attempting to pass themselves off as authorised collection agents by making charity bag drops in residential areas, with attached leaflets bearing similarities to the logos of official air ambulance charities. At no time throughout their trading histories were they ever authorised by any air ambulance service to act as charity fund raisers.