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The Porn Baron Football Boss, his Glamour Model Fiancée and a War With Ofsted Over their ‘Failing’ Children’s Home

When a care home for vulnerable children funded by billionaire West Ham United Chairman David Sullivan, and run by his OnlyFans model reality TV star partner Ampika Pickston, had its registration suspended over safeguarding issues, it led to a strange chain of events and legal threats to this newspaper

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Byline Times has received heavy legal threats for investigating a damning Ofsted report into a children’s home financed by the Chairman of West Ham United football club, David Sullivan, and run by his reality TV glamour model fiancée.

Liverpool-based legal firm Brabners, acting for AP Care Homes Ltd – which is owned wholly by glamour model Ampika Pickston – issued legal warnings to this newspaper after staff were contacted in early January seeking further information about the children’s home having its registration suspended.

The lawyer claimed on 16 January that the report by independent regulator Ofsted – charged with inspecting schools, colleges, child-minders, nurseries and children’s homes in England – was “flawed” and that reporting on it would be “defamatory”.

A notice suspending the registration of AP Care Homes Ltd was issued immediately following the damning Ofsted inspection in November 2023. It found that a sexual assault allegation made by a juvenile resident who had gone missing from the home was not referred to the watchdog. 

Among other serious criticisms, there were “significant and serious shortfalls” in the care provided to the child residents. The home is now being closely monitored by Ofsted, which would not comment further on the length and status of the suspension. 

Following a tribunal challenging the report’s findings, which took place on 9 January this year, Ofsted temporarily removed the report from its website. But three hours after Byline Times contacted Ofsted on the morning of 17 January, informing it that AP Care Homes Ltd had claimed to this newspaper that the report had been “revoked” because it was “defamatory” and contained erroneous allegations, the watchdog re-published it with “no significant changes”.

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “We took the report down temporarily to make some minor edits to wording following a proof-read. No significant changes were made and the report is back on the website.”

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A spokesperson for AP Care Homes Ltd said the company adhered to the highest standards and attacked Ofsted’s work as “discredited” and littered with “failings”.

They told this newspaper: “In December 2023, the company was forced to challenge a recent Ofsted report concerning the home… and consequent actions taken by Ofsted. As a result of its failings, Ofsted abandoned those actions and withdrew the report from circulation.

“The company has been made aware that Ofsted has now taken the extraordinary step of publishing an amended report on 17 January. Having reviewed that amended report, the company has written to Ofsted to make clear that the amended report is as flawed as the earlier (withdrawn) report and the now abandoned steps taken by Ofsted. That is a matter that the company will pursue vigorously with Ofsted, as it did with Ofsted’s earlier discredited actions.”


‘Does Not Keep Children Safe’

AP Care Homes Ltd was incorporated in July 2022 before receiving an unspecified cash injection in December that year from Rickleford Ltd – a company controlled by Pickston’s fiancé, the billionaire West Ham United Chairman David Sullivan – according to company accounts.

It opened its first home – a “luxury” four-bedroom property, according to its website – in the summer of 2023 in Styal, Cheshire, with Pickston saying: “My goal is that every child in our care and every care leaver is able to reach their full potential. They have the right to be healthy, happy, safe and secure, and to feel loved, valued and respected.”

It has had responsibility for three children since it was established. 

But Ofsted inspectors in November 2023 found that safeguarding at the children’s home was “poor” and “does not keep children safe”, while “an absence of effective leadership and management seriously compromises the welfare and safety of children”.

According to the report, “professional boundaries” were “blurred” when Pickston allegedly took one child back to her own £3 million home, near the upmarket suburb of Altrincham, leading to an investigation by a boss at the children’s home who has since left the company, as reported by The Sun newspaper earlier this month. 

Ofsted found that Pickston allegedly invited children to her home again three weeks later. “Although the children did not visit, this action does not demonstrate that high standards of safeguarding practice will always be adhered to,” the report stated.

Another incident allegedly involved one child claiming to have been sexually assaulted while ‘missing from care’ from the home – an allegation Ofsted found the home’s management had not reported to the regulator, in line with official guidance. Cheshire Police told Byline Times it has no record of any complaint of this nature made by the home.

Offering no further detail of the alleged assault, the report stated: “There have been incidents when children have been missing from the home. Following one missing from care incident, a child alleged that they had been sexually assaulted.”

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Other incidents logged by Ofsted included children “meeting strangers via video messages”, while bullying was described as “poorly managed”. It also found no manager in place, with the facility overseen by Pickston herself – who the regulator found lacked “the skills and experience” to operate a home in line with official regulations. One member of staff fell asleep twice while in charge of children, while another youngster was allowed to vape, the inspectors reported.

The report found there were “positive relationships between children and staff” and that “staff support children to maintain relationships with family members”, meaning they “can see people who are important to them”.

But the report also found that staff “do not always listen to children when they make complaints or raise serious concerns” and that “failing to listen to the children does not promote the development of positive and trusting relationships”. 

A legal source told Byline Times that threats to sue this newspaper for investigating and reporting on Ofsted’s findings were, in their view, “unjustified”.

“The matters at the heart of this investigation were raised by two professional Ofsted inspectors,” they said. “It is quite right that journalists can investigate without undue threats being made.”

Ampika Pickston found fame on reality TV show The Real Housewives of Cheshire from 2015 to 2017, returning to the show last year. She has previously sold content of an adult nature on OnlyFans, and regularly posts semi-naked images of herself on social media.

There is no suggestion that David Sullivan – whose estimated £1.2 billion fortune was made in the adult industry and who owns a 38.8% majority stake in West Ham – has involvement in AP Care Homes Ltd, beyond the provision of financing.

Ofsted told Byline Times that it does not comment on individual cases.

Do you have any information on this story or others?

Get in touch confidentially by emailing: news@bylinetimes.com



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