Highgate company investigated for posing as child abuse charity and sending donations to UK fugitive
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 July 2015 | UPDATED: 09:14 19 October 2015
The Charity Commission is investigating claims that a Highgate-based organisation has been masquerading as a charity – including revelations that it sent almost all its donations to a fugitive wanted for questioning by police.
An investigation by the Ham&High has discovered that a company claiming to raise money to help “protect children from sexual abuse” had been misleading potential donors as part of a drive to raise £1million.
The Knight Foundation, set up in February 2014, said the money would go towards helping fight “cruelty against children” and “Satanic ritual abuse”.
But the Ham&High has discovered that the organisation is not registered with the government watchdog the Charity Commission and that almost all the donations received are being sent to Sabine McNeill – a fugitive wanted for questioning by UK police.
Her colleague Belinda McKenzie, one of the directors of The Knight Foundation, has been leading the donation drive from her home in Priory Gardens, Highgate.
The 69-year-old told the Ham&High: “We are aiming to become a charity and are at the early stages of the organisation.
“I see our work as charitable as it’s helping others, including my friend Sabine who had to leave the UK or face arrest. She needs financial support for her work, speaking to MEPs about child abuse in the UK. But I will consider amending the wording on our website.”
Ms McNeill, 70, fled from her home in Swiss Cottage earlier this year following her involvement in a case which saw now discredited allegations spread over the internet that a Satanic paedophile ring was operating out of a school and church in Hampstead.
In March, a judge found the claims to be “baseless” and said they had led to many innocent Hampstead families suffering death threats and abuse.
Ms McNeill, who is acting secretary of The Knight Foundation, is thought to have absconded to Germany amidst fears of being arrested.
The Knight Foundation recently ramped up fundraising efforts, with Ms McKenzie posting messages on the organisation’s website every day for the past three weeks urging those wanting to fight “the very worst kind of child abuse” to donate to the “charity”.
After this newspaper’s findings were passed to the Charity Commission, the regulatory authority confirmed the organisation was not registered and said it had been “misleading” potential donors.
Describing its work as “not wholly charitable”, the Commission added it would also be looking further into the company “to assess if there are any other regulatory concerns”.