On December 2, 2011 at Bracknell Magistrates’ Court, Anthony Joseph Durkin of Bernwood Road, Bicester, Oxfordshire pleaded guilty to nine offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The offences related to Mr Durkin’s activities as a director of Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd which falsely made several claims to be collecting for air ambulance charities when this was not the case. The charges Mr Durkin faced related to failures of professional diligence, deceiving consumers and misleading omissions. The case was brought by West Berkshire Council’s legal services team.
The hearing followed a trading standards investigation after concerns were raised by Wokingham borough residents regarding a leaflet sent out by the defendant’s company. In the leaflet, the company claimed to be collecting old clothes and toys on behalf of air ambulance charities. The leaflet used images of a helicopter similar to that used by legitimate charities and contained an indication that a majority of the proceeds from the sale of the goods collected would be donated to air ambulance charities. These claims were repeated on a related website.
The trading standards investigation found no relationship existed with the charities and no funds had ever been donated by the defendant.
Mr Durkin was fined £580 on each of nine charges, totalling £5,220, plus £500 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Sean Murphy, manager at West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards, said: "This kind of activity is aimed at misleading members of the community who are looking to support vital services. As such, it is treated as a priority for the service. We would like to hear from anyone who has concerns about any charitable collection that they feel may not be what it seems."