A message from our Chief Executive
You may have read a news piece this week regarding a convicted paedophile attending an event hosted by Book Aid International at the House of Lords last December.
Unfortunately this story is true.
We of course had absolutely no knowledge of this individual’s history. He was one of over 400 people on a mailing list invited to this short reception.
I would like to reassure you that no children were present at this event and that this person has had no contact whatsoever with any children through his donations to Book Aid International.
We exist as a charity to give children a brighter future by sending books that will support their education and open their minds to the world around them. We are therefore dismayed that this individual should have attempted to associate himself in any way with our charity.
Below, you will find a statement which we sent to The Sun newspaper after becoming aware of this incident:
In respect of Tom O’Carroll’s attendance at a Book Aid International reception in the House of Lords on 17 December 2018
Book Aid International is a small charity, established in 1954, which sends books to communities in Sub Saharan Africa and around the world in order to improve literacy and change lives.
The charity is shocked to learn that a donor who attended a short reception at the House of Lords is a convicted paedophile. The background of this individual was unknown to the charity and, had it been known, he certainly would not have been invited to the event.
Mr O’Carroll donated less than £500 in total over three separate occasions since 2015 and this money has been refunded. Mr O’Carroll was one of 400 people on a mailing list who was invited to the House of Lords reception, with 60 turning up on the night. Book Aid International complied fully with the requirements laid down by House authorities and there were no children present.
Alison Tweed, Book Aid International’s Chief Executive, said: “We were all shocked to learn of Mr O’Carroll’s history. We have already taken action to sever all ties with Mr O’Carroll and will increase our vigilance for future invitation-only events. We hope that this incident does not in any way affect our ability to continue our vital work helping children around the world to achieve their potential.”
Lord Paul Boateng, chair of Book Aid International, said: “The charity does excellent work globally, has strengthened its procedures and have expressed regret for any embarrassment caused. They continue to deserve the public’s support.”
Book Aid International also complies with all laws and regulations as set out by the Charity Commission, the Institute of Fundraising and the Direct Marketing Association. It is not current practice for charities to screen all donors – as it would be impractical to do so – although established due diligence policies are in place for those donating large sums.
Please rest assured that we remain committed to our work of bringing books and the joy of reading to people around the world and we will not be deflected from our mission by this very unfortunate incident.
Book Aid International