Charity backs Dame Ann Gloag as she faces ‘malicious allegations’ of human trafficking

Charity backs Dame Ann Gloag as she faces ‘malicious allegations’ of human trafficking which have left campaigners ‘dumbfounded’

  •  The Open Door Foundation said it was ‘shocked and horrified’
  •  Dame Ann Gloag was charged after an interview by police on Thursday

A charity which supports trafficked people spoke out yesterday in support of Dame Ann Gloag following the revelation that the Stagecoach tycoon has been charged with human trafficking offences.

The Open Door Foundation said it was ‘shocked and horrified’ to learn of the claims against its ‘long-time supporter and friend’ and insisted the allegations must be ‘malicious’.

Another charity founded by Dame Ann, Freedom from Fistula, which supports women in Africa who have been seriously injured during childbirth, said it would support her ‘in her decision to vigorously defend herself against these damaging claims’.

Dame Ann, who is estimated – along with her brother, Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter, 68 – to be worth £730million, was charged after an interview by police on Thursday.

A charity which supports trafficked people spoke out yesterday in support of Dame Ann Gloag following the revelation that the Stagecoach tycoon has been charged with human trafficking offences

A charity which supports trafficked people spoke out yesterday in support of Dame Ann Gloag following the revelation that the Stagecoach tycoon has been charged with human trafficking offences

Another charity founded by Dame Ann, Freedom from Fistula, which supports women in Africa who have been seriously injured during childbirth, said it would support her ¿in her decision to vigorously defend herself against these damaging claims¿

Another charity founded by Dame Ann, Freedom from Fistula, which supports women in Africa who have been seriously injured during childbirth, said it would support her ‘in her decision to vigorously defend herself against these damaging claims’

Yesterday, a source close to the 80-year-old philanthropist said: ‘It is an astonishing sequence of events. People who have worked with Dame Ann in the fight against human trafficking are dumbfounded. There was no arrest and Dame Ann went voluntarily to the police station. She was questioned and charged.

‘Dame Ann is incredibly stoic. However, she is greatly bewildered at what is happening here.’

Open Door said the tycoon had ‘since 2012, been one of the most important and consistent financial and material donors for the activities of our foundation, assisting over 1,200 survivors of human trafficking’. It added: ‘Dame Ann’s support has directly helped rescue 492 trafficked girls, including at least one trafficked to Scotland.’

Executive director Monica Boseff added: ‘Without the generosity and support of Dame Ann Gloag, our organisation would not be able to continue its vital work helping some of society’s most vulnerable people. Dame Ann’s compassion and high moral values have infused our work from the beginning and we will stand by her while she fights to clear her name.

‘The issue of human trafficking is a very real and dangerous threat. To conflate Dame Ann’s decades of charitable work with these heinous crimes is not only harmful to her legacy, it is dangerous for victims who are truly in urgent need.’

The charity added that Dame Ann had been ‘directly and immediately involved’ in helping hundreds of Ukrainian refugees at risk of trafficking in 2021.

Sarah Brown, a charity campaigner and wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, added: ‘Gordon and I have known Ann Gloag for many years through her huge personal commitment to Freedom from Fistula and supporting girls’ health and education.

‘She is a remarkable campaigner and quietly generous charity supporter. These charges just don’t add up.’

Sources claimed Dame Ann and her family are victims of ‘collusion’ by eight people who had concocted a ‘cock-and-bull story’. It is understood the claims were made by people brought to Scotland as part of her charity work.

Dame Ann was accompanied by her husband David McCleary, 72, as she attended Livingston police station last week. Her stepdaughter Sarah Gloag, 47, and son-in-law Paul McNeil, 52, were also questioned. All four were charged, although no arrests were made. The procurator fiscal will decide if the case proceeds.

A spokesman for Dame Ann said she ‘strongly disputes the malicious allegations made against her, her foundation and members of her family, and will vigorously defend herself.’

A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘Four individuals were charged in connection with an investigation into alleged human trafficking and immigration offences. A report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.’

Dame Ann, who owns Kinfauns Castle in Perthshire as well as a property at Beaufort Castle in Inverness-shire, has six children and is a grandmother to 13 and great-gran of two.

She co-founded Stagecoach, the UK’s biggest bus and coach operator, in 1980 and was made a dame for her business and charity work.

Her Gloag Foundation supports projects that ‘prevent or relieve poverty and encourage the advancement of education, health and religion in the UK and overseas’.

HONOURED: Ann Gloag was made a dame in 2019 for her charity work, which includes supporting a school in Nairobi, Kenya, inset below

‘Malicious allegations’ have left campaigners ‘dumbfounded’

‘She is bewildered at what is happening’

‘We know Ann and these charges don’t add up’

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