Investigators urge charities to come forward over charity pest Gerry Freedman
Detectives have sent a UK-wide alert to all forces as they investigate self-proclaimed business consultant Gerry Freedman over allegations of fraud.
Police have widened their probe into the man dubbed Britain’s worst charity menace after it emerged he has been threatening charities across the UK for at least 10 years.
Freedman has been accused of harassing hundreds of charities, colleges and universities with job applications and threatening them with legal action if they fail to interview him.
It is thought the 40 year old former civil servant started harassing charities back in 2007 with police estimating he has contacted hundreds if not thousands of charities since then.
Investigators are now urging organisations to report any contact with Freedman to their local police force by calling 101.
Freedman's most bizarre demands
Four cans of “chilled” Pepsi Max
Tuna Sandwiches (with crisps)
Business class air fares for two
First class open return rail fares
A “relaxation room”
A full English breakfast
New £700 laptop
A detective told TFN: “We have widened the investigation to enable us to get a better picture of how many organisations have been contacted. At this stage it’s about co-ordinating and corroborating evidence. It’s vitally important all organisations who have had contact with Gerry Freedman to call their local police force and report any harassment.”
Since we first broke the story, dozens of charities have come forward with stories of Freedman’s persistent demands for first class travel, hotel accommodation and expenses.
One charity director said Freedman threatened to report him to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) because he refused to supply four cans of Pepsi Max before an interview while another said he tried to claim £150 pounds in expenses for a pair of “specialist shoes.”
Many have had to fork out thousands of pounds in legal fees to defend themselves against his outlandish demands.
And it has emerged one charity in Wales paid Freedman an out-of-court settlement amounting to “thousands” after he was refused an interview for an equalities post.
The charity’s manager, who has signed a confidentiality agreement with Freedman and could not be named, said: “He wouldn’t back down. He was aggressive and got personal. The legal advice was to settle with him out of court as it was decided a long public exposure would do more damage than it was worth. I’d be astonished if there wasn’t other cases of this kind.”
Craig Tinnie, an assistant director for Clarity, which campaigns for mentally ill people, said Freedman became “aggressively insistent” for his organisation to provide business class travel to a conference in Brussels.
“While it was obvious he was a chancer, it nonetheless became a serious issue. It took time and effort to fend him off. Eventually he relented with a barrage of insults.”
Ben Doherty, head of employment at law firm Lindsays, said charities should guard against serial applicants.
He said: “If you do receive an application which doesn’t appear genuine – for example because it is a long list of requests for reasonable adjustment, don’t ignore it - take early advice.”
Freedman was unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts by TFN to contact him.