NCCF - £5,000,000 but was it legal and above board?
Updated: May 10
Following an in depth investigation into the award of £5,000,000 in Phase II from the Aged Veterans Fund I present our findings.
Our investigative team have uncovered serious concerns with the application, the award and how the fund is being administered.
Nigel Heaps MBE and Jeff Liddiatt were responsible for the application on behalf of the BNTVA, now NCCF.
In order to obtain the funds from the Aged Veterans Fund, the charity (then the BNTVA) had to apply through the AVF grants scheme. Having successfully received £1,000,000 in Phase I, Phase II was for a significant amount more - £4,999,299.
Mr Heaps and Mr Liddiatt created the application and did not disclose the details to any other board member, banning them from the detail. Only basic updates were sent to the other board members. On source told us:
"We knew nothing about any of the details of the application, Jeff and Nigel kept it to themselves, we were not allowed to talk about any aspect of it and were told that it would affect the grant award if we discussed anything about it."
Each organisation submitted applications using a standard form, detailing what the money was going to be used for:
The Aged Veterans Fund allowed within it's parameters, up to 10% to be used for Management costs and Mr Heaps and Mr Liddiatt took full advantage. £390,783 in management fees, how could this be justified. Over 3 years this would be £10,855 per month!
The application continues to detail how the money will be managed:
So BH Associates will be managing the projects, but who are BH Associates LLP? It is a company setup by Mr Heaps and Mr Bexon, who were both ex-trustees of the BNTVA. If Mr Heaps is assisting with the application, why is he named as the person who would receive majority of the management fee? Surely this is a conflict of interest?
BH Associates LLP had been setup just before the Phase I award and benefited from the management fee in Phase I. So the company was only a year old, the application continues:
So the application declares that BH Associates is a company setup by two former trustees. It mentions a proven track record of delivering the applications in Phase I, but this was only a year. How is this a proven track record? BH Associates LLP did not have any accounts filed, was a new Limited Liability Partnership, but would be the main benefactor of this award. Since the award, BH Associates LLP has been struck from the register and a new company setup, Bexon Heaps Associates.
A breakdown of the projects was provided:
Brunel University would also provide £300,000 worth of funding for their PhD students:
The schedule for completion was then added:
Just how much of this has been completed? We are in July 2019, how many presentations have the NCCF actually completed?
Further details of the projects were added:
Has anyone ever engaged with the Remembrance Virtual Museum? A online museum exists, the remembrance sites do not have QR codes to access the museum as was promised. The communications initiative was listed to expand the BNTVA publication, but this has also not been completed as the BNTVA produce their own magazine.
The key part of this section is OBSIVEN. Who are they?
If you visit the OBSIVEN UK website, the people involved are listed:
Again, we have Nigel Heaps and Jeff Liddiatt. But let us review the Aged Veterans Fund requirement that the fund is for UK residents only and no Overseas funding will be available.
This was confirmed by Alan Owen, Chairman of the BNTVA at the 2018 conference in Weston-Super-Mare who asked for funding for a memorial on Christmas Island and was refused funding by the NCCF, who stated they do not support any overseas projects.
So how can money from the Aged Veterans Fund for the Nuclear Veterans be used for international gain and be provided to an organisation run by Mr Heaps and Mr Liddiatt? The latest NCCF accounts posted on the Charity Commission website show a donation of £1,000, did this go to OBSIVEN?
The application continues:
It states that there is relatively little time remaining for the veterans, yet the endowment has been invested for 15 years? Why 15 years? These veterans need help now. The Aged Veterans Fund stated (taken from the gov.uk website):
"It is funding projects that support non-core health, wellbeing and social care needs for older veterans (born before 1 January 1950), including surviving World War 2 veterans, those who undertook National Service and other voluntary enlisted veterans who may need some focused support in relation to their health and social care needs. "
So why is money being used to help descendants of the veterans, and an international organisation? Is this not a breach of the Aged Veterans Fund stated purpose?
The application states the following:
The BNTVA are a member of COBSEO and since the split from the BNTVA the NCCF have not become a COBSEO member, so how can the NCCF use this conduit?
The application states the role of BH Associates:
It also mentions the protection of abuse of the grant system, which is honorable, yet the NCCF seem to have abused the system:
- On the 2nd July 2017, Mr Liddiatt rekindled the flame in Paris, he took with him a party of Veterans and their wives which was partly funded by the NCCF. (How can an overseas trip be paid for when the funding for a memorial overseas was turned down?)
- A blanket booking for the All Tests Reunion in Weston Super Mare in 2017 was agreed by the NCCF, this is against the principles of the AVF and if audited would show that funds were allocated to Veterans who did not meet the criteria for help.
- The NCCF helped the BNTVA participate in the NAAV Conference by contributing to travel by the Chairman. Again, an overseas trip.
So who signed the application?
The main contact was Mr Jeff Liddiatt, the second contact:
Mr Nigel Heaps, as special adviser to the BNTVA board, using his personal email address, rather than his BH Associates address.
How is this not a conflict of interest?
So lets, recap:
1. Mr Heaps prepares the application for the NCCF committee, which consists of Mr Heaps and Mr Liddiatt.
2. The application awards BH Associates the contract for the portfolio projects, to the sum of £345,000. (approx) This included 60 days for attending meetings and conferences over the 2 years which amounted to £2417.00 per day.
3. The application discusses OBSIVEN and contributions internationally, which is run by Mr Heaps and Mr Liddiatt.
4. Mr Heaps signs the application with Mr Liddiatt.
5. The rest of the BNTVA board do not know of the details signed by Mr Liddiatt or are aware of the financial payout to BH Associates.
So how was this allowed to happen?
Melloney Poole of the Aged Veterans Fund was interviewed by Alan Rimmer of Fissionline and assured Mr Rimmer that the award had taken into account the role of BH Associates and that they would have no impact in the running of the charity. Yet she allowed an application to be signed off by the person who was the main benefactor.
Melloney Poole was responsible for the award of the grants and was to remain impartial to the application process, yet she met with Mr Liddiatt on the 12th July at the Victory Services Club to discuss the application. Was there a special relationship? If so, then other organisations have been disadvantaged by this meeting.
In an email sent by Mr heaps in 2016, he states:
"The BNTVA in its early years tried to scream and shout about the injustice it faced and only succeeded in entrenching the government on the side of their MOD advisors, to the point where the organisation was undoubtedly 'blacklisted' untouchable by media or other institutions of society. It was only when we changed tack from apportioning blame and fault by simply showing the situation within our community and getting people to realise the injustice and issues we face that we were able to make any headway.
Using the idea of nuclear community and illustrating our issues we gained support of both the public and Government Ministers to a point we were able to broker a deal to get support to our community and independent research conducted to examine the facts of our health experiences and heritage.
This was no mean feat as you can see we had to create a situation where any measures could not be interpreted as affecting the MOD mandarins tight, and in current times irrational, grip on the reins of causation."
What was the deal? Was there a pay off to stop the campaigning? £345,000 seemed like a great deal for BH Associates.
Since we have investigated the application, BH Associates websites have gone off line.
Many veterans feel that their money has been stolen from them, they feel let down by the boards and the Aged Veterans Fund. The money paid for the management fee to BH Associates could have been used to help Veterans in need, many of which have been turned down for help by the NCCF due to not meeting the criteria, these include a BNTVA member who died after waiting six months for a bed to be delivered by the NCCF.
One veteran who we spoke to, said (in relation to Mr Heaps):
"He abused his position, we trusted him to fight for recognition and the injustice, instead he sold us out, took the money, his M.B.E and ran. It is a disgrace that he is benefiting the most from this fund, not us"
BH Associates made their own criteria, their own funding, signed it off themselves and received the payment. How is this fair?
There is growing anger amongst the Nuclear Veterans, they have been denied any recognition by the government and it now seems as if some of their own trustees have abused their position to line their own pockets. It is even more disgusting that the trustees involved are a Nuclear Veteran and a descendant of a Nuclear Veteran.
If you are concerned by the use of this public money, the award of the grant and how it has been spent, please contact the National Audit office using their web form https://www.nao.org.uk/contact-us/contact-us/ or via the telephone (0)20 7798 7264. The more people who complain about this award the more likely they are to investigate it.