|Yesterday's Evening Standard filled almost two entire pages with an exposé of alleged con-artist Yolande Beckles and her disappearance with £12,000 of cash raised by black parents in Hackney to send their children on an educational holiday in Trinidad last month. As of this evening there is nothing of this story to be found on the Hackney Groveller website, suggesting either that they were hoping for a scoop or that nobody has told them the news.|
Don't let Miss Beckles mess with your money
|According to The Standard, Miss Beckles - CEO of motivational company Global Graduates - promised to take the children on a trip to boost the confidence and self-esteem of black youngsters, but instead absconded with the cash to South Korea where she attended meetings arranged by the religious cult "The Moonies".|
The paper went on to state that Yolande Beckles was sacked in 1999 from Hackney charity The Windsor Fellowship for allegedly misusing a credit card and other financial misdemeanours including contracting the services of her own mother for excessive fees. It noted that at least one of Miss Beckles' previous businesses has failed, leaving debts of £125,000.
The Evening Standard made reference to the fact that this woman had starred in a three-part BBC2 series entitled "Don't Mess With Miss Beckles", leading veteran Guardian journalist Angela Neustatter to comment: "I wouldn't have put [her] in charge of a little-favoured houseplant" and a distraught parent to write: "The programme was atrocious and a total fix... When I saw it, everything I had objected to they left in... [she] was terrible and her behaviour was wholly inappropriate."
|Of far more direct relevance to Hackney, however, amongst the treasures of this carefully researched piece of investigative journalism, was that Yolande Beckles had earlier this year allegedly managed to extract grant funding for 10 sessions on student leadership skills from Alan Wood, CEO of The Learning Trust and the man responsible for all education services in the Borough. Apparently she had little difficulty convincing Hackney's gullible education supremo to part with £50,000 to fund these educational activities, for reasons some have unkindly suggested may be connected with her alleged propensity to excite white middle-aged men. Whatever the real reason, The Learning Trust has now distanced itself by a short mile and Alan Wood is declining interviews, preferring to entrust a deputy to brush off questions.|
Alan Wood - allegedly coughed up £50,000
|As a representative of financially hard-pressed Hackney council tax payers, I do hope that this affair is not being blackwashed and the full truth will be revealed. I can only hope that matters are resolved rapidly and any money found to have been obtained fraudulently and/or used inappropriately is returned to the Borough's coffers or those of The Learning Trust. Especially before any warrants are executed upon Miss Beckles by any as yet unnamed foreign governments, leading to the possible sequestration of her UK assets.|
Postscript: Thanks to "anon" for pointing out that The Learning Trust website continues to celebrate the work of Miss Beckles even today, three days after the Evening Standard exposé.
Post Postscript: Obviously I've been wrong all along about Miss Beckles. According to Madge Hillside, MP for Shoreditch, Hoxton Yuppies and Middle Class Southern Hackney, Yolande is "one of Hackney's Hidden Gems".