Charities review millions from trust as chair accused of ‘sex worker immigration scandal’

03 Oct 2023 News

Charities that have received millions in funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation are seeking advice on their donations as allegations about its chair and founder are reviewed by police. 

The Sunday Times published allegations regarding millionaire Hamish Ogston, which include human trafficking, sexual exploitation and drug offences. 

It alleged that Ogston suggested trafficking women either for his private office or the Hamish Ogston Foundation.

The paper, which said its investigation is based on around 1,000 leaked documents, claimed that Ogston suggested bringing women into the country under the guise of them being interns for his charity. 

According to the article, Ogston said: “The charity won’t be funding this, it would be me privately, but we could use the charity as some foil.”

Ogston, who has a CBE and a reported £130m fortune, told the Sunday Times that he did not recognise the paper’s account of the allegations.

Metropolitan Police said: “We are aware of media reporting allegations of exploitation and drugs offences.

“We take reports of this nature extremely seriously and are now reviewing this information to assess what further action is needed.”

The Charity Commission also said it was assessing the concerns raised to determine the next steps.

English Heritage seeks advice on £11m donation 

English Heritage received an £11.2m donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation in August which it planned to use to launch an apprenticeship scheme. 

When approached, the charity said it is now seeking advice on its next steps as a matter of urgency due to the allegations against Ogston. 

An English Heritage spokesperson said: “The Sunday Times’ allegations about Hamish Ogston are extremely serious.

“Given that the Hamish Ogston Foundation recently committed a major donation to English Heritage and our heritage skills programme, English Heritage’s senior management team and board of trustees are taking advice on our next steps as a matter of urgency.”

National Trust considers £6m donation

The National Trust received a £6.2m donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation in 2022 and used it to create a Heritage Crafts Apprenticeship programme under the foundation's name. 

After the allegations made about Ogston, the charity is now seeking advice on how best to proceed. 

A National Trust spokesperson told Civil Society: “We are aware of the severity of the allegations published in the Sunday Times.

“As the National Trust has received a donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to establish a Heritage Crafts Apprentice programme, we are now seeking advice on how to proceed.” 

Commission: Serious concerns have been raised

The Hamish Ogston Foundation was founded in 2019 and is chaired by Hamish Ogston. Its only other trustee is Isabella Ogston. 

It works to support health, heritage and music through grantmaking. The foundation’s financial accounts for the year ending 2022 show an expenditure of over £10m.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “Serious concerns have been raised in the media regarding the chair of trustees of the Hamish Ogston Foundation. We are assessing the information to determine our next steps.”

The Hamish Ogston Foundation’s website is currently unavailable “in light of recent press reports”, it reads. It did not respond to Civil Society’s requests for comment. 

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