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Children can again reside at a care home owned and run by Ampika Pickston – the reality TV star and glamour model engaged to billionaire West Ham United Chairman David Sullivan – after its registration was suspended following a damning Ofsted inspection report.
AP Care Homes Ltd successfully reversed the suspension on 4 January after further ‘monitoring visits’ by the watchdog showed that safeguarding standards were now being met.
A notice suspending the registration of the home was issued immediately following the Ofsted inspection in November 2023, which found that a sexual assault allegation made by a juvenile resident who had gone missing from the home was not referred to the watchdog, and that there were “significant and serious shortfalls” in the care provided to the child residents at the home in Styal, Cheshire.
Following a tribunal challenging the report’s findings, which took place on 9 January this year, Ofsted temporarily removed the report from its website. It was then republished on 17 January, following an accuracy review, with no significant changes.
Amid widespread reporting of the home’s suspension, Pickston took to social media over the weekend to strongly criticise Ofsted – charged with inspecting schools, colleges, child-minders, nurseries and children’s homes in England – branding its findings “dishonest” and “flawed” and suggesting her being in the “public eye” had led “subconsciously” to a negative bias toward her.
On Monday, Pickston – the owner and sole director of AP Care Homes Ltd – announced that her facility, purchased with money from a company owned by former porn baron Sullivan, was “open and fully operational”, adding that “no harm has come to any children” in its care.
She called for a public inquiry into whether Ofsted was “fit for purpose” and compared its conduct to the ongoing Post Office Horizon scandal, which saw thousands of postmasters prosecuted due to a faulty computer program.
“I am standing up for people that have lost their homes, their lifestyles, their businesses… at the hands of Ofsted,” she wrote on social media.
Pickston also claimed that Ofsted’s “treatment to providers” like her was “driving demand for unregulated placements through the roof”, and “raping” taxpayers who pay an average of £4,500 a week for children in the care system, with some juveniles with complex needs requiring funding of up to £63,000 a week.
Pickston told her 224,000 Instagram followers that “honest people don’t want to work with a governing body who do not help, support or provide the truth” and compared her experience to that of school headteacher Ruth Perry, who took her life in January 2023 following a critical Ofsted inspection.
“I just want to get clear for the record that no child has ever been sexually assaulted whilst residing at AP Care Homes,” she added. “Individuals within [Ofsted] think they have the artist license to write and do whatever they choose to and that it won’t be challenged. This is an abuse of power!!! This has to stop. They [Ofsted] picked on the wrong person as I will fight for the truth and changes need to be made.”
Pickston said she was considering taking legal action, adding that she believes in “truth, transparency and integrity” and Ofsted’s actions “have been far from that”.
A spokesperson for Ofsted did not comment on Pickston’s statement, but confirmed to Byline Times that the children’s home suspension had been “lifted”.
“Any report that is published online [by Ofsted] is factually accurate,” they added.
Pickston went on to suggest that AP Care Homes Ltd has yet to make money since it was incorporated in July 2022. Analysis by this newspaper suggests that, at average rates, the facility could generate a turnover of £936,000 a year at full capacity.
Land Registry and Companies House documents show a financial relationship between AP Care Homes Ltd and Rickleford Ltd – a company belonging to her fiancé David Sullivan. The documents show that AP Care Homes Ltd purchased the “luxury” four-bedroom property in Cheshire, for £1,187,500 on 1 December 2022 and that Rickleford Ltd possesses a charge against the property.
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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 any involvement in AP Care Homes Ltd, beyond the provision of financing.
Ampika Pickston came to public prominence appearing in the ITV show The Real Housewives of Cheshire between 2015 to 2017, before making a return to screens this year (although sources at the channel do not expect any further appearances by her). She has previously sold content of an adult nature on OnlyFans, and regularly posts revealing images of herself on social media.
The damning Ofsted inspection found that safeguarding was “poor” and “does not keep children safe” at Pickston’s children’s home – 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 home, leading to an investigation by a boss at the children’s home who has since left the company. 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.
The Ofsted report also found the facility lacked an appropriate manager – Pickston herself was doing the job but had not “the skills and experience” to operate a home in line with official regulations, it found.
Pickston said: “My home is run by a management team which consists of a responsible individual, a registered manager, and a deputy manager and they’re responsible for overseeing the home on a day to day basis… Over 95% of my staff have got the skill-set, the transferable skills and have been heavily trained to make sure we can safeguard and look after children to the best of our capacity.”
Addressing another allegation, she added: “There’s been no child that has not eaten for days.”
Byline Times received legal threats for investigating the Ofsted report, with Liverpool-based legal firm Brabners, acting for AP Care Homes Ltd, issuing warnings to this newspaper after it was contacted in early January seeking further information.
Ampika Pickston’s lawyers were contacted for comment.
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