Thank you, thank you for all the tweets, Facebook and phone call messages of support following the article in yesterday’s newspaper, and for taking the time and trouble to hear another side to the story.
This was the first email I received this morning, and heart-warmingly reminiscent of those that followed:-
I’ve just read the bloody stinking article on the internet and wanted to drop you a line to say I love you. What a bunch of filthy bastards they are, twisting everything to suit their story. My blood is boiling (as I’m sure yours is, to say the least)!
Is there anything I can do? I can let people know that you offered to pay on my behalf and that you didn’t ask me for a penny, just wanted me to benefit?
Hope you’re coping ok. Would love to catch up soon.
My friend did say I could willingly use her name, but as she is also a performer I don’t want her to have any Daily Mail repercussions. On the rare occasions I have had to deal with this level of journalism I have simply ignored it, seeming the quickest way of expunging it from my life, but because of the number of charities I support, and fearing their reputations would be tarnished, felt I had to respond.
I have never, nor would ever trick money out of anyone.
I was indeed part of a group which met very regularly and was all women. Thus far the article is correct.
We were aware that our process was in danger of being called a pyramid scheme but this is where we differed, and where we stayed within the law.
We never met in a public place.
There was no joining fee.
Nobody held any money in an account waiting for a pay-out.
No-one had to hand over their money until a pay-out was due.
The amount was gifted with a signed certificate.
The amount was never more than £3,000.
Nobody was recruited.
We never advertised.
We simply invited our friends to come to a meeting, or indeed several meetings, before they decided whether we were for them, no pressure was applied at all.
We had a sponsorship scheme, funding each other through the process until such time as the money could be repaid and we could recycle ourselves (I was on my second round).
Everyone who joined was fully armed with the knowledge that if the group fell apart you lost your £3,000. I didn’t start the group as the headline implied; in fact the women mentioned in the headline were members long before me. I was invited to talk through the ethics and principles and make a decision for myself. The women were lovely, £3,000 is a lot of money but so is £24,000 and I thought the gamble worth it. Second time around I lost out. First time around, due to various sponsorships and loans, I collected my original £3,000 plus £8,500, not the £24,000 stated in the article.
I invited my family members, my closest friends, my workmates and neighbours to come and meet my group. Would I seriously do this if it was a scam? I genuinely believed I was offering them a gift.
I held some gatherings in my own home (not a luxury mansion in Kent – I wish) but a workman’s cottage. I freely handed out my email and phone numbers, never for a moment thinking they would be handed over to the Daily Mail!
I spend many weekends working with various charities, teenagers, survivors of domestic abuse, terminally ill children, dyslexics. I spoke recently at the TLC against racism. I have visited prisons and hospitals, I sign petitions against FGM. I march against NHS closures. I ran a charity for twelve years which looked after Romanian orphans. My life is spent nurturing talent, celebrating unique personalities, creating new and thought provoking work, learning about others and caring that they do well. I’m even a vegetarian for God’s sake because I can’t bear the thought of killing animals unnecessarily. I CARE. Is this the profile of someone who scams people to line her own pockets?
Thank goodness for the internet, where I can exercise the right to reply in my own words.
I would like to thank my friends, my family and my agent for all their encouraging, wise and loving messages.
There will be no further comment.