Exposed: the serial job applicant stalking Scotland’s charities

Befunky collagenew

​Gerry Freedman stalks charities threatening them with legal action if they don't give in to his outlandish claims 

10th February 2017 by Robert Armour 4 Comments

Charities are being warned against an unemployed man who threatens organisations with fake disability legislation if they don’t give in to his outlandish demands.

Gerry Freedman (pictured above), from Leith, Edinburgh, bombards charities, FE colleges and community groups with job applications demanding hotel rooms, first class transport and cash expenses.

Freedman says he is disabled, suffers anxiety and is clinically depressed and claims to have stood for the Conservative party in Manchester and Leith local elections.

Other unwitting charities could easily fall foul of this man’s demands - Faye Johnstone

It has also been confirmed he was on the board at Blackwood Group - the Edinburgh-based housing association.  

For years, the Walter Mitty character and self-styled “disability consultant” who fakes expertise on disability law, has stalked dozens of organisations with incessant demands, threatening legal action if they don’t accept.    

His Facebook and Twitter accounts, which he has taken down since being contacted by TFN, showed him staying in exclusive hotels across Scotland, enjoying holidays abroad and even attending interviews at a host of FE colleges and charities.

When asked by TFN why he was targeting charities, Freedman said: “My disabilities are my business. I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong. Leave me alone.” 

However one unwitting charity said it had to redraft a job description and seek legal advice following an incredible 26-page application from Freedman while another said it spent over £1,000 on a lawyer after he threatened to sue the community group if it didn’t accept his incredible demands.

Faye Johnstone, who runs a charity offering respite for disabled children in Perth, said Freedman’s time-wasting demands created havoc within the organisation.

His 33-page long application for an unpaid trustee post was accompanied by a series of bizarre demands including: first class travel from Edinburgh to Perth; a four star hotel room for two nights with meals for Freedman and his partner; £100 cash for taxi fares; and demand to be compensated for a new suit he was “required” to wear to interview.  

“He created absolute turmoil,” said Johnstone. “We’re a small charity with no experience of legal issues or disability legislation. So his aggressive demands made us channel much-need resources into dealing with his application rather than being used to support disabled children and their carers.”

And Johnstone warned: “He needs to be stopped. Other unwitting charities could easily fall foul of this man’s demands. How many have given in to him because it’s an easier option than seeking expensive and complex legal advice?”

John Fotheringham chairman at Partnerships for Wellbeing in Inverness received an application from Freedman last month for a trustee post. He told TFN the application was from the outset “aggressive and bizarre” demanding accommodation and expenses from the charity.

He also demanded he was given an interview.

“We had to redraft our application because of the threats he made against us,” he said. “It meant all our resources as a small charity had to be used fending this man off. He wouldn’t give in. It was intimidating and distasteful. I can only warn others to beware of him. If anything, he’s persistent. Alarmingly so.”

Ben Doherty, head of employment at law firm Lindsays, said charities aren’t defenceless 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.”

Have you been affected by this issue? Email Robert Armour, in strict confidence.

How to deal with serial applicants

Exposed: the serial job applicant stalking Scotland’s charities

Ben Doherty head of employment law at Lindsays advises:

First, consider reviewing tribunal records to identify whether they have brought previous multiple claims. Bear in mind that a tribunal will not uphold a discrimination claim if an applicant had no intention of applying for or taking the job 

Refer to a well drafted equality policy when setting out job and person specifications

Ensure those involved in the selection or interview process have received training in equality

Leave health-based questions – except those designed to identify reasonable adjustments required for the recruitment process – until after shortlisting or an offer is made 

Keep full records of all steps taken and the reasons for them in case of a claim

10th February 2017 by Scottish Charity

Dispicable. I can't believe action hasn't been taken against this guy. Our charity also had his threatening and aggressive 'application'. Luckily he no where near met the criteria for the post, but we spent a huge amount of time and money on advice. Money which our charity worked very hard to secure. The article didn't even come close to what he demanded from us.

15th February 2017 by someone

This man is a chancer and a pest. Despicable waste of charity resources. (I've had first hand contact with him)

15th February 2017 by London Charity

It's not just Scottish charities he's targeting. I've come across him at two different charities in London and he has demanded for flights to be paid for both times. We said no.

21st February 2017 by Jane Bridges

I've encountered three applications (all the same content) from this idiot. Each time, I told him where he could go stick it and he crawled back under his stone. However, I'm concerned about the impact this has had on smaller organisations who do not have access to the appropriate advice and guidance. Other people make an honest living. Or make requests for reasonable adjustments in good faith. This unemployed and uneducated loser rips off charities and lives the high life on their hard earned money. Disgusting pig. I hope he doesn't have children. They'll need removing from him if so - I honestly think this guy's a complete psychopath.