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Sex-trafficking allegations against benefactor of church causes investigated

03 October 2023


Hamish Ogston

Hamish Ogston

ALLEGATIONS that the British entrepreneur and philanthropist Hamish Ogston — who has donated millions of pounds to church projects through his Foundation — trafficked vulnerable women for sex are being investigated by Scotland Yard.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that its own investigation had led the Metropolitan Police to review “allegations of exploitation and drugs offences” against Mr Ogston. This included, the paper says, analysis of about 1000 leaked documents suggesting that Mr Ogston may have trafficked or attempted to traffic Thai and Filipina sex workers over the past 15 years.

The paper also reports that his alleged use of women and drugs was first reported to the Met in 2012 and 2013, but that the force did not investigate. The Met said in a statement on Saturday: “We take reports of this nature extremely seriously and are now reviewing this information to assess what further action is needed.”

Mr Ogston, who is 75 and has a fortune of £130 million, has vehemently denied all allegations against him. He said in a statement: “This paints a picture of my personal life that I simply do not recognise. I do not exploit women. I am very sad that the publication of these allegations is going to cause immeasurable harm to the charities which I have been able to support over the years.”

The Hamish Ogston Foundation has funded several church projects, most recently the inclusion of six cathedrals in the National Schools Singing Programme (NSSP), which was set up to widen opportunities for children in state schools to engage with music (News, 3 March).

In 2022, the Foundation awarded a £700,000 grant to the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF), which delivers specialist training to students of heritage crafts (News, 11 February 2022). This was on top of a £535,000 grant given to the CWF the previous year (News, 25 January 2021).

Mr Ogston is a former pupil of Salisbury Cathedral School. He is a professed lover of choral music, and in 2017, his Foundation donated £384,000 to save the organ of Liverpool Cathedral. In the cathedral, to celebrate, a hot-air balloon was inflated, carrying four choristers in its basket (News, 24 November 2017).

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