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Celebrity-Run Children’s Home ‘Twice Misled’ Ofsted Over Serious Safeguarding Incident Which Saw it Shut Down 

Ampika Pickston’s AP Care Homes Ltd has been barred for caring for children since late January and is now subject to a Care Standards Tribunal

Ampika Pickston with fiancé, West Ham Chairman David Sullivan, in the stands during a Premier League match in Bournemouth in August 2023. Photo: Simon Galloway/Alamy

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A children’s care home run by reality TV star and glamour model Ampika Pickston, and funded by her billionaire West Ham United chairman fiance David Sullivan, is alleged to have twice misled Ofsted over an incident which put an extremely vulnerable girl “at risk of serious harm” and saw the facility shut down, Byline Times can reveal.

AP Care Homes Ltd was opened last July by Ms Pickston using a £1.2 million loan from Mr Sullivan, who made his fortune in the adult industry. 

The facility has been barred from caring for children since late January following a catalogue of child safeguarding failures, with lawyers for AP Care Homes Ltd confirming the company is losing money with no child residents in place.

Celebrity-Owned Children’s Care Home Hired Two Managers ‘Sacked from Previous Jobs’ who Oversaw Safeguarding ‘Chaos’ that Led to Closure

AP Care Homes Ltd is run by reality TV star Ampika Pickston and was bankrolled by her fiance, West Ham co-owner David Sullivan

This newspaper reported Monday how Leigh Brooks, the current interim manager, had told a recent tribunal she had overruled a recommendation made in January by the home’s then manager not to admit an extremely vulnerable girl, after an agreement was made to increase the fee AP Care Homes Ltd received from the placing authority.

In the days that followed – described as “chaotic” by Ms Brooks – the girl went missing from the home, threatened staff, caused significant damage to the property, self-harmed, received hospital treatment, and police had to be called to one incident.

A week later the company – which lists Ms Pickston as the sole director, despite the Real Housewives of Cheshire star having no experience in social or child care – asked the authorities to remove the girl as its staff were unable to keep her safe.

Now an Ofsted report into a monitoring visit conducted on 17 April in the wake of that incident has alleged information subsequently supplied to the watchdog by Ms Pickston and Ms Brooks, the then deputy manager, had been “contradictory”.

The document, which was released on 5 June, appears to allege AP Care Homes Ltd twice provided information which later turned out to be untrue.    

EXCLUSIVE

Celebrity-Run Children’s Care Home Accused Of ‘Misleading’ Public As it Faces Threat of Permanent Closure

Ofsted is considering closing AP Care Homes Ltd – run by TV star Ampika Pickston and funded by her West Ham owner fiancé David Sullivan – while a separate investigation has been launched into its social media promotion

The report by the watchdog – charged with inspecting children’s care homes as well as schools and colleges – said: “In previous monitoring visits, the deputy manager [Brooks], who has taken on the role as the new manager, provided information about a child’s move into the home and identified that the placing authority failed to provide sufficient key information. 

“However, during this [April 17] visit, the new manager [Ms Brooks] confirmed that all information had been provided by the local authority.”

The report added: “However, a detailed analysis had not been completed by leaders and managers to ensure that staff understood the needs of the child and could safely care for [her]. 

“This was contradictory to previous information given by the provider [AP Care Homes Ltd].”

Ms Brooks admitted during her evidence to the two-day Care Standards Tribunal on 4 and 5 June that there had been “shortfalls” from management having not read the relevant paperwork sent to them by the local authority ahead of the girl moving in. 

Celebrity Care Home Owner Admits Inability to Keep Child Residents Safe

AP Care Homes has been restricted by Ofsted from caring for vulnerable children twice in three months over safeguarding issues. Now its owner has conceded that she is currently unable to protect the young people in her care from harm

She said steps had been taken to improve the process.

Ofsted’s guidelines stipulate providers are expected to be “open and transparent…and to uphold the highest professional standards”.

It adds providers should “approach the inspection or regulatory activity with integrity and be open, transparent and honest”. 

This, the body says, “includes providing evidence – or access to evidence – that will enable the inspector to report honestly, fairly and reliably about their provision. It means not withholding or concealing evidence, or providing false, misleading, inaccurate, or incomplete information.”

Ofsted were asked what action it had taken, or planned to take, given its report appeared to allege its inspectors had been misled by AP Care Homes Ltd. They declined to comment on individual cases.

Its guidelines state if providers do not “act in accordance with these expectations”, it “may have an impact on the leadership and management judgement and/or affect providers’ suitability to remain registered”.

AP Care Homes Ltd is currently subject to a cancellation notice, meaning it may now never be permitted to reopen.

It is not known whether this is connected to Ofsted’s allegations that it was misled. Ofsted declined to comment.

Iain Simkin KC for AP Care Homes Ltd appealed to the tribunal to have restrictions lifted as he said improvements in standards at the ‘luxury’ five-bedroom home in Styal, Cheshire, had taken place.

The Ofsted report agreed that leaders and managers had “reviewed their monitoring” systems and staff had received “access to training”, but not to a level which would “meet…children’s needs and keep them safe”.

At the tribunal, Dominic Howells for Ofsted noted that improvement efforts by AP Care Homes Ltd had been deemed insufficient by the watchdog, and that the home continues to lack adequate safeguarding and skilled staff. 

Judge Melanie Lewis said the tribunal panel would attempt to return a decision within three working days, although at the time of publication it was yet to have done so.

There is no suggestion that Mr Sullivan, 75 – who has an estimated £1.2 billion fortune and who owns a 38.8% majority stake in West Ham – has any involvement with AP Care Homes Ltd beyond the provision of financing.


A History of Being Misleading

This is not the first time AP Care Homes Ltd has been accused of being misleading.

Byline Times previously reported that both Ofsted and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had received public complaints that the company was using its social media to “mislead” the public into believing it has been allowed to re-open and is “providing a good service”.

The ASA said at the time that it had been “reviewing” a complaint made by a member of the public that AP Care Homes Ltd’s Instagram posts could breach advertising rules, but a source at the organisation told this newspaper it would not be taking further action.

An ASA spokesman initially failed to reply to requests for comment, but after this story was published said: “Following careful assessment, we determined that there weren’t grounds for an investigation into these ads. The posts were not trying to solicit new business or residents, and did not make any claims that appeared to be a problem under our rules.

“Given the circumstances, we believe it is best for Ofsted, who are currently engaging with AP Care Homes, to determine how to proceed.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “We don’t comment on individual providers or confirm complaints received. However, we take all concerns received seriously.”

In the same article, we also revealed that a flood of four and five-star reviews from people saying they were staff at AP Care Homes Ltd were posted on a jobs website in the week it was first shut by Ofsted in mid-November following a damning inspection which was critical of its “weak” management team and “poor” training.

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Until that point, the company had only ever received one-star ratings from people saying they were employees on the Indeed employment site. 

The favourable reviews, which included one said to be from a child resident, had the effect of lifting AP Care Homes Ltd’s Indeed rating as a place to work from one star to four stars, pushing negative reviews down the page. 

Byline Times understands they were posted despite AP Care Homes Ltd requiring that employees sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

AP Care Homes did not return a request for comment regarding its online promotion at the time the original article containing the claims was published.



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