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Jun 262018
 

In an ongoing attack on Aberdeen Voice and its contributor Suzanne Kelly, Northfield Animal Haven alleged on Facebook that the police were looking into events and had supplied a bundle of documents to Northfield’s owner.  However, the police recently confirmed in writing that this claim by Northfield was a fabrication.  By Suzanne Kelly.

Northfield Animal Haven’s activities have been exposed in previous Aberdeen Voice articles, and the shelter/farm have often used social media to try to throw doubt on the facts exposed.

In one instance, Northfield Animal Haven took to Facebook in September 2016 to claim the police were involved.

The police have just recently confirmed in a two page letter to me that this is completely, totally untrue.

Northfield wrote:

“… finally getting a resolution on that carry-on we have had to endure, spent this afternoon at police station speaking with the officers this so next stage is set in motion hopefully I can update you all about this very soon.”

The post on the Animal business’ Facebook page was accompanied by a photograph of what appears to be a thick bundle of documents with the Police Scotland logo showing, handwriting, and the name of an officer.

The post on the Animal business’s Facebook page was accompanied by a photograph of what appears to be a thick bundle of documents with the Police Scotland logo showing, handwriting, and the name of an officer.

I had been trying to get the police to comment on this bogus-looking documentation and claim for some time.

It is a great vindication that they’ve dismissed Kelly Cable’s/Northfield’s claims entirely.

The police wrote a two-page letter to me on 22 April 2018; the entire contents have been shown to the editors of Aberdeen Voice.

The letter read in part:

“Police Scotland would not permit or allow any private individual to photograph, copy or have access to any Police investigation paperwork without instructions from the Procurator Fiscal.

“I can confirm that this is not a Police Scotland investigation file.”

The letter continued: 

“…he (the police officer whose name appears on the documents pictured on Northfield’s post) has stated that he has in fact had no involvement at any time with the establishment or the person named.”

Ms Cable was asked to explain the bundle of documents and the assertion she had spent an afternoon about a ‘carry on’ at a police station. As per the previous articles, we asked for her to comment on the situation. 

She has refused to explain where the bundle came from and her claim the police were involved.

However, a lawyer from Brodies, which seems about to sue me over my articles, wrote to my lawyer with a demand to stop me writing this or other articles. 

As I explained to my lawyer, I have a right and a responsibility to share factual information that is in the public interest, and I have a freedom of expression guaranteed by EU Human Rights law. People who donate money to any cause should have access to the relevant facts.

Northfield has called me a liar by name on social media. The owner’s father named me in an alleged break-in at the farm that resulted in a pony being overfed to death (NB other animals have died at the business in feeding-related circumstances), and ‘joked’ about using an AK47 to ‘solve’ the problem.

I look forward to hearing from Brodies, which Kelly Cable is briefing about taking me to court, as to how they explain this latest embarrassing deception. I can’t wait to hear what the ‘next stage’ Northfield referred to in their post is.

Clearly Kelly Cable knew she didn’t spend an afternoon in a police station; she knew she didn’t get a bundle of documents from the police, and she knew that this officer Henderson was in no way involved. But someone cooked this story up.

Whoever wrote it did so as a representative of Northfield Animal Haven – and Northfield Animal Haven should be held to account.

I suspect that using a Police Scotland logo as Cable did may well be a criminal action; we’ll see.

If they do take me to court, I have a very strong suspicion who would be believed – and it’s not the convicted benefit fraudster Ms Cable, caught in yet another deception aimed, in my opinion, at making me look bad and deceiving social media visitors to the NAH page about events.

Even the fundraising she created to raise money to sue me seems to be misleading:  I feel an obligation to let people who are giving her money know that this bundle of evidence is a fabrication, disowned by Police Scotland.

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Oct 212016
 

Suzanne Kelly continues her series on Northfield Animal Haven in New Pitsligo, this time concentrating on contradictory statements made by owner Kelly Cable on NAH’s funding, her benefit fraud conviction, and ultimately and most importantly this article looks at animal welfare concerns.

A mission statement, some sample threats, and advice.

Northfield Animal Haven SignThe purpose of this series of Aberdeen Voice articles was to examine the nature of the Northfield Animal Sanctuary operation, based on people approaching AV with concerns.

Looking at the NAH pages this past year and a half, the operation is unlike any animal welfare organisation I have encountered anywhere else in the UK or the USA.

I have volunteered and donated money, worked on farms, attended lectures on animal welfare, and at present make regular donations to 10 animal charities in the UK.

I mention this as Cable and some of her friends have attempted to link my investigations with my support for other bona fide animal welfare organisations. I am not salaried by any of the human, environmental or animal charities I support, and my investigations are based on the evidence brought to me from a wide range of people.

Collating the host of contradictory statements Kelly Cable made in funding appeals and on social media has been arduous. No doubt this piece will result in Cable and her supporters launching further social media attacks on me. There is no doubt though that the evidence presented in this piece is fact, carefully checked, fully documented. Some of the most damning material about the goings-on at NAH comes from Kelly Cable’s own posts and funding appeals and those made by her friends.

The word ‘attack’ was not used lightly. Many sources have insisted on remaining anonymous fearing reprisals, saying they received threats of physical harm. Threats involving guns and shooting were ‘jokingly’ made against me by Cable’s father Eric [1]. This month a woman named Carrie Anne Greig, posted:

Carrie Anne Greig Honest to fucking god. doesn’t she have a mute button or something?! She’s an absolute idiot, going on about morals and shit, how is it morally right to time after time slander and Harass someone when she has absolutely no idea? She’s never been to your place, never seen the animals, piss all. Someone needs to put her down with that AK47 she was on about.” [2]
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009008791129&fref=ts

Aside from the deceptions and animal welfare problems, I have never heard of an animal sanctuary making posts about shooting journalists. Joking or not, the threat of violence against anyone always carries the trace of intimidation. Do honest organisations need to stoop to such tactics when they are investigated?

As to the many contradictory statements Kelly Cable makes – please do contact her to see which statement she made is true and which is false. And please – if you have any doubt as to the credibility, honesty and standards of any charity: do not give it money.

Fact Recap:

  • That Kelly Cable is a convicted benefit fraudster [3] – this calls her honesty into question;
  • That Kelly Cable denied signing for a substantial loan [4] – again her honesty was thrown in doubt;
  • That signs and funding appeals stating ‘all farm animals are rescued are misleading [5]. There seem to be two Northfields – one that keeps some animals as rescues – while breeding for sale from these [6.1-3], and one that sells animals at Thainstone Market and privately where slaughter is the almost inevitable outcome [7]This schism is condemned by many animal welfare professionals including John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line [8].
  • When cornered on this issue, Kelly has made posts along the lines of ‘everyone’ knows that she operates a working farm and that the reason she uses pictures of animals in her appeal such as sheep and cattle that are not to be rescued is ‘people have asked to see all the animals’ [9]. Donors Aberdeen Voice had contact with were completely in the dark on the point, and would never have donated to money to an institution that breeds from its rescue for sales, and raises farm animals for commercial purposes.
  • That Cable used, without any contact or permission, images of animals she had nothing to do with for fundraising purposes – this calls transparency and honesty into question [10].
  • That Cable has claimed to different witnesses to have disabilities and illnesses [11.1-11.4]; she has told several people these illnesses lead her to use cannabis on the farm and that alcohol and drug use by others is tolerated by her at Northfield around the 170 animals she says she cares for single-handedly. This clearly poses threats to animal welfare – and that has led to serious consequences as this article will demonstrate. This drug use should also be of serious concern to anyone using her animal assisted therapy programme.
  • There are allegations of cannabis sales which the authorities are aware of [12]. (As an aside, cannabis can be a very therapeutic medical boon to some. The appropriateness of seeking public donations while using/selling cannabis on a farm by a disabled woman who purports to single-handedly care for over 170 animals where neglect and deaths have occurred should raise red flags to animal welfare authorities and those concerned with public safety).

This all adds up to irresponsibility fiscally, operationally, and safety wise on a worrying scale.

This piece will use material collected as part of this investigation to show conclusively:

  • That animal welfare is often compromised leading to animal deaths, injury, suffering and exploitation
  • That the fundraising appeals launched by Cable and her supporters contains misleading stories – the implication is that there may well be an attempt to gain donations by using less than honest prose
  • That fundraising appeals and social media posts by Cable and her friends contain many contradictions as to the nature of the operations, what NAH’s funding mechanisms are, what type of animals are actually rescued or sold, and whether or not animals will be put to sleep – this obfuscation makes it difficult to get to the truth: is that the intention, or is Kelly Cable perhaps so confused and unwell she cannot recall what she is telling people from one day to the next – if there is confusion, then are the 170 animals best looked after by her
  • That Kelly has made and continues to make false assertions as to Police Scotland or legal entities having contacted and warned Aberdeen Voice about these articles; no such contact has ever happened – the implication is that lies are being used to attempt to discredit the facts as presented in Aberdeen Voice.

The most important things though are the welfare of people using her animal assisted therapy, the fact that people have been defrauded out of thousands of pounds (both in loans made and not repaid and those who believe their donations save farm animals ensuring animal welfare) and top of these concerns is the welfare of these 170 animals.

Cable and Finances:

While constantly pleading poverty, Kelly keeps buying and adopting more animals – clearly by her own admission, more animals than she can safely manage (she, her father and 17 horses were injured while she and her father tried to transport them [13], and it is claimed she lives in substandard housing as she has so little money).

With one breath she will write that no animal will be put to sleep [14.1]; then she launches fundraising appeals threatening to have animals killed (not adopted by other area shelters) if she doesn’t get money [14.2-4]. In one social media post she will talk about her ‘babies’ and in other posts we find instances that these ‘babies’ have been improperly fed, transported, sold, injured – and died in questionable circumstances.

She and her supporters would have us believe she is a veritable Mother Teresa of animal welfare, denying herself basic comforts and although disabled, she cares for over 170 animals. In the course of the investigation a different picture emerges.

We have a woman who has two convictions for benefit fraud, who has borrowed money from people without ever repaying it, including £5,000 from her then partner’s parents and grandparents – claiming that her signature on the loan agreement was a forgery.

This claim was debunked by a handwriting analyst as part of court proceedings.

We have a woman who went on the internet, copied photos of animals that had absolutely nothing to do with her or NAH, and used the images saying that she needed funds to save the animals pictured. Cable sells animals while asking for money for saving other animals; it is often unclear from her advertising (signs, online fundraising appeals) what animals are actually to be saved or sold for slaughter; she recently posted a picture of a sheep and said it was the first sheep ever to be adopted in the sanctuary.

She’s used photos of sheep and depicts them on older material asking for funds to save them – she sells them for meat, and disowns any responsibility for what happens to animals she sold. Members of the Cable family have made threats against me and others.

Kelly has told people, including her former social media administrator Fiona Manclark that she uses cannabis for her disability, telling some people she has fibromyalgia. Other witnesses, understandably keen to remain anonymous, have told Aberdeen Voice that cannabis is used by Kelly and others while at the farm – and is sold from the farm as well.

In summary, this is not your typical animal rescue, and anyone wishing to donate money to help animals should be aware of these documented facts. Please read the reference document accompanying this article for proof of assertions made.

In a perfect world, Cable would ensure that all animals are properly cared for – in her own words as will be shown this is not the case.

Kelly once posted on social media that ‘everyone’ knows how she operates. Hopefully after this series of articles that will be true.

99 Problems:

As described in previous articles, visitors to her farm are greeted with a sign depicting animals of all sorts, with the words ‘rescue rehabilitate retire rehome for all equine, farm and small animals. This sign is illustrated with images of a pig, fowl, poultry, sheep and cattle. In effect, visitors have been misled before they even get out of their car:

Kelly Cable does not rescue all the animals she has at the farm. The cuddly sheep she has used in fundraising appeals are sold, slaughter being the likely outcome of their visit to Thainstone Market. There is not a single reputable, above-board animal rescue organisation in Scotland Aberdeen Voice can find that claims to save ‘all farm animals’ while raising some commercially.

It is not only the fate of the animals that Kelly sends to slaughter that is at stake. Chicks less than two weeks old have been sold and then re-sold to uncertain fates.

All animals eventually die, but at Northfield horses can die from cold weather [15], and ‘of a broken heart [16]’. A lamb was overfed – and died [17]. A sheep destined for sale was given a reprieve after it lambed – the hapless Kelly had no idea the lamb was expected [18]. Perhaps being disabled and running (according to some posts singlehandedly) a ‘working’ farm and a ‘haven’ is too much.

Aberdeen Voice is in receipt of some harrowing witness statements such as that of a dog killing poultry. A dog was hit after killing poultry; a bird with a broken leg went untreated. Unsurprisingly, the people who witnessed such acts are keen not to be identified. Kelly recently posted that she knows everyone who has contributed to these stories.

This in itself is a message of intimidation to those who have been threatened by members of her family, but it is an indictment of a ‘haven’ where numerous people have come forward with serious concerns. However, the most damning words about what happens to these ‘babies’ as Cable and her acolytes call the animals comes from Kelly herself.

Dead horses:

Horses die. They tend to do less of it however when given sufficient diet, care, shoeing and shelter from weather.

Many of the NAH rescue appeals follow a pattern. There is an urgent need for rescue funds or the animals will be turned into meat. This was true of the ‘Shetland 6’ ponies and for ‘Lucy’ and her foal ‘Sally’.

Now using such a manipulative tactic on a kind-hearted public is still manipulation, but it is understandable if coming from an organisation that only rescues animals. How is it possible for Northfield to sell animals for meat – pigs, lambs, poultry – but then pretend to be upset that these ponies that it (and often only it) can rescue if the public stump up funds urgently? If following how one farm can want to save its animals while sending its animals to slaughter is hard to fathom, the pretence that NAH is upset at the idea of an animal becoming food defies any kind of logic.

Here is the first part of the Go Fund Me appeal for ‘saving’ Lucy and ‘Sally’ https://www.gofundme.com/6u3mgs

The appeal for these two horses was 32 months ago; it raised £727. Perhaps a swift end at the abbatoir might have been kinder. After being rescued – Lucy died at Northfield – because it was cold and there was no room in the stable for the ancient horse. Kelly Cable wrote:

“Due to the stables situation I couldn’t take her in and it was very cold -6 that night. Please donate and help me rebuild our stables before we lose any more otherwise I will have no option but to close ….” [15]

What was done to get this horse somewhere where it would have been warm to keep it alive?

‘Babies?’ – Neglect, Sales and Abuse.

This is a post Kelly made of a lamb called Roddy which had collapsed from over eating and a joking comment ‘ha ha’ from Kelly – who’d allowed orphaned lambs to overeat – hardly good practice.

Figure [17] shows her post about an orphaned lamb which died from ‘bloat’ due to her lack of care; what did happen to the ewe I wonder? It seems as if for Cable and her devoted supporters it is sufficient to cuddle and groom cute animals; the serious business of animal welfare is glossed over or joked about, like the over-fed lamb Roddy. This does not happen at other rescues.

If money is always in such scare supply, a lamb dying of overfeeding, this overfed animal, and a diet for some pot-bellied pigs they took in (after NAH got them, one was put to sleep due to arthritis – diet to reduce the weight of these animals might have helped extend the animal’s life).

One sheep was given a reprieve from market as she lambed the night before being sent away. Not knowing your animals are pregnant is not brilliant animal husbandry. Kelly’s words explain this lamb was going to be sold to keep the sanctuary going. If killing one animal for money is how NAH avoids killing another animal then NAH is not a rescue.

There are many other instances of reasons to be concerned about what happens when the cameras aren’t taking pictures of cute animals being hugged. These instances, backed as they are by Kelly Cable’s own words in most instances, should be all the evidence any right-thinking person needs to know there are serious problems.

On Animals Being Putting Animals To Sleep if NAH doesn’t get money:

Perhaps she would never needlessly put animals to sleep. Perhaps the overweight potbellied pig she had put to sleep could not possibly have benefitted from a diet and painkillers. Obviously no one is calling the attendant veterinarians’ judgements into question; what is undeniable is that when Kelly is after money – she will use the threat of putting animals to sleep in her advertisements. [14.2-4]

In the Go Fund Me campaign at [14.2] Kelly ‘prays for a saviour’ so that she won’t have to close, implying it would be kinder to put the animals to sleep. Other animal shelters could easily help with taking animals she can’t manage to care for properly. The language lapses in and out of grammatical ambiguities such as:

“…I will have no choice [no choice to do what?] as it wouldn’t be right to allow them to suffer to the end [is she suggesting that neglect to the end was ever an option?] it would be much kinder to pts which is so unfair of them [who is them?] we have already lost one because of the weather [is she taking more animals than she can successfully care for and shelter? – it seems the case] and a few others are already losing weight [this is neglect – I do not know how else it can be seen]”

Is she just so emotionally over-wrought she can’t write straight; is she not well educated – or is the ambiguity deliberate so as she cannot be pinned down? Again she implies there is a time threat to her getting funds – a device she has used before – the message is clear despite the language – animals will be put to sleep by January unless she gets money.

So much for the claim she made on Facebook that:

“One thing I am sick of seeing is this thing about my animals getting pts, sorry wrong there, that will never happen xxxx”

If there is any doubt about this mechanic of saying there is a time deadline and animals are in danger of being put to sleep, there are other appeals she’s launched along those lines. One such was the ‘Shetland Six’ appeal. This is the time she used photos of a pony in Wales and another in the Shetlands which were in no danger. The Welsh Lluest Trust wrote to Aberdeen Voice:

“We can confirm that we have never had any contact with Northfield Animal Haven and have not given any permission for a photograph of one of our rescue ponies to be used. This pony was rescued by us in early 2014 and successfully moved into a loving loan home later on that year after several months of intensive treatment and rehabilitation at Lluest. We can confirm that the pony continues to live a happy and contented life in his new home and has never had any contact with Northfield Animal Haven.”

Potential donors were led to believe the animals were owned by a person who would not let any other animal sanctuary have them except NAH – and was going to kill them for meat if Kelly couldn’t get funds for them. The six eventually became four animals, their names and appearances changed from the photos initially used.

Again, please do refer to the reference document accompanying this article for screenshots, quotes and evidence. It is hoped that at the end of this article and its references, a clear portrait has emerged as to why it is important to animals and potential donors to scrutinize the goings on at Northfield Animal ‘Haven’.

The next article – probably the last in this series – will look at social media posts made by Kelly and her supporters on a wide range of issues, contradictory claims made, and attempts to discredit Aberdeen Voice and witnesses, and to make recommendations.

Note: Kelly Cable was invited by Aberdeen Voice to respond to the numerous issues raised above, and in the supporting document, and have her views included and accurately represented. Kelly did not respond directly, but posted on her facebook page:

“To Fred Wilkinson, Suzanne Kelly and The Aberdeen Voice.

“Up to this point all that has been printed by yourselves has been hearsay from others. Would you also like permission to speak with my doctor ?. If our vets choose to speak with you, that is up to them but I think you will be met with the same response as you got from the local shopkeeper when you called him last year.

“I stand by everything I have said with regards to what you have printed, I will not retract nor apologise for anything that has been said, just like everyone is meant to believe what has already been published by yourselves and your followers. Your followers and staff find it perfectly acceptable to contact people about me, slander the rescue and my name over various blogs and sites and to ridicule others because they disagree with you so I will not answer any questions for your forthcoming article as I refuse to continue to play your games.”
 – https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1655556561421288&id=100009008791129&pnref=story 

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Sep 182015
 

Old Susannah’s feeling sheepish about recent events, and has decided not to duck the important questions surrounding recent articles about Northfield Animal Haven.  Rather than going on the lamb or spreading any bull, here are some timely definitions should anyone think she’s chicken. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryIf you’ve been reading the Voice, you may be aware of articles and comments concerning Northfield Animal Haven. Were all of its fundraising appeals transparent and accurate? Did all of the animals it purported to rescue actually exist? Not so much. Now that the dossier of Northfield’s activities has been turned over to the police, it’s time for me to turn myself in.  If Northfield were to be believed – and wny wouldn’t you? – then I have done wrong.

Here are a few related definitions to help unravel the Northfield saga.

Alias: (English noun) A false name, often used with the intent to conceal identity and/or to deceive.

Did you know that Old Susannah is actually an alias, and my name is Suzanne Kelly? Well, it’s worse than that.

“She calls herself SueKelly10 on Twitter”, tweeted Fiona Manclark.

Before you judge me too harshly for this subterfuge, please allow me to explain. ‘Sue’ is a name I’m using to try and throw people from thinking I’m Suzanne. I really am amazed that Fiona figured this out. Alas! I cannot ask her how she sleuthed this one through, she and Northfield have me blocked on Twitter and Facebook.

However, should you wish to ask for her opinions about how Suzanne Kelly has the gall to call herself ‘SueKelly10’, tweet to her at ‘Mummyalfi’. Hope this helps.

As an aside, when I first started writing for Aberdeen Voice (some 400+ pieces ago), I was going to only be known as ‘Old Susannah’ and stay anonymous. I thought that might help give me more distance from people who might not like being investigated.

Alas! While I had said to AV editors that my pen name was going to be ‘Old Susannah’, the first column came out with the heading ‘Old Susannah’s Dictionary Corner – by Suzanne Kelly’. With the cat out of the bag, the decision was pretty much made for me that I’d continue investigating and not care whether people knew my name. After all, what was the worst that could happen?…

Death Threats: (English compound plural noun) To threaten to kill someone or a group of people

In various social media locations, Northfield’s Kelly Cable and her father Eric have stated that Kelly’s had death threats. I suppose this could be from The Vegan Conspiracy (see below), militants, etc. But death threats are very serious. Cable claims these have been reported to the police. There isn’t anything funny about death threats – but it is funny that anyone should issue death threats to someone over the veracity of their interesting farming and fundraising frolics.  Or benefit fraud.

The family must be very upset by this. Death Threats are no joking matter. They are so upset at these death threats that dad Eric wrote on a Facebook Page about me and my articles that he should get an AK-47. But that’s OK, as he also wrote in brackets ‘tongue in cheek’.  He probably only meant he’d like to take me out shooting.

Threats are a tricky thing.  Old Susannah / SueKelly10/ I must work harder to understand when a death threat is a joke or when it’s sinister.

Clearly the threats to Kelly are very real.  In fact, I am quite convinced the death threats are as genuine as the rescue appeal for the six Shetland ponies she recently removed from Go Fund Me. For some reason, some people found the appeal a tad misleading.  It was illustrated with a photo of a cute pony  – rescued years ago in Wales.  The owner of the six ponies has never come forward, we’ve no idea where they are or what they look like.  But because Cable says so, we know that only she was going to be allowed to save them.  Otherwise they would be turned into meat. Kind of like the lambs on the other side of the Cable business, but I digress.

By the way, it’s important to remember that everything that happens because of my exposing Kelly Cable’s methods of operation is my fault and not hers.  I should have just let her continue to rescue animals (though I suspect some are probably more suited to rehoming in a Farmville game than on a real farm). I could have let her take donations, such as the £150 she got from a pensioner.  This generous person wrote in a comment that they couldn’t really afford their donation, but they didn’t want the animals to suffer.   What nefarious knaves would be making death threats? I have a theory…

The Vegan Conspiracy: (extremely modern English compound noun) Shadowy organisation that is trying to get people to stop eating animals

I am supposed to confess that my interest in Northfield’s inventive fundraising is due to my being part of The Vegan Conspiracy. This is mentioned here or there on Facebook by Northfield supporters.  I have a vegan agenda and I have cohorts.  As secret as our cabal is, I’m sure the boys won’t mind me telling you a bit more about our little initiative, The Vegan Conspiracy.

Every full moon, a bunch of hemp-clothing clad, tofu-eating, unshaven, unwashed pagans gather at Torry Battery to advance our inevitable world domination.

The nefarious agenda is to get people to realise that fluffy chicks, fleecy lambs, adorable calves should be petted, loved, given space and not shredded alive and un-anaesthetised on birth for being male (chicks), locked in pens so they can’t move (most other critters), or kept pregnant only to have calves snatched away and be re-impregnated again and again until worn out so we can have milk on our cornflakes.

After we paint ourselves in dayglow paint and dance to Morrissey, we strategise how to get people to be more compassionate and switch from meat and dairy to alternatives.

Alas! as I’m only a vegetarian, I don’t get more than associate membership. But I’m working on it, and one day will be a fully fledged Vegan.  Possibly.

Karma:  (Sanskrit noun) Fate

Happily Northfield’s owners have many friends around them in this difficult time.  Many of these are wishing that karma will get me / comment that ‘ karma’s a bitch’ and so on.  Needless to say, I am quaking in my boots at the idea. How will I be punished for what I’ve done?

It would be foolish of course to suggest that perhaps karma has paid a visit to New Pitsligo, and has started giving what is owed.

Alcoholism: (Modern English noun) A disease; those suffering from it are best ridiculed, outed and mocked

Fiona Manclark has let the world know I’m an alcoholic – so she says – and she and her witnesses have the proof.  These people claim I am often seen ‘falling out’ of  BrewDog.

I’ve a few friends who have this disease; and mocking the afflicted is always a great reminder to them of their weakness.

Some illnesses are quite serious.  Fiona, who has delighted in tweeting and posting about my alleged alcoholism, has now resigned from involvement with Northfield on ill health grounds.  I wish her a speedy recovery.

Also ill, but with nothing funny at all, is Kelly.  She’s let us know her  brain tumour is giving her problems again.  My sympathies.

As with death threats, Old Susannah is not sure which illnesses are to be mocked and which are to be sympathised with.  But I’m working on it.  Clearly alcoholism falls into the mocking category for Ms Manclark.

My lawyer and the entire staff of BrewDog don’t believe I’m an ‘alkie’ and that I should do something about these claims of Fiona’s but that’s a matter for another day.  I’m sure her repeated posts, comments and tweets about my being an alcoholic (and liar  AND keyboard warrior to my shame) were just meant to help me recover from a debilitating disease.  Otherwise, her behaviour might be misconstrued as a brutish, libelous,  ill-thought through attempt at intimidation.

Intimidation: (English noun) The attempt to subdue, silence, cow another person

Eric Cable, likewise, doesn’t want to intimidate me. When he posts on Facebook remarks to the effect he’s found interesting things on the internet, I tremble.  He probably just means he’s found cute looking pony photos to save for future reference or something. I know it’s not about me, but my heart still skips a beat nonetheless.  What if he found something out about me?

Could it be that time I jumped in the Trevi fountain fully clothed? There’s the time I streaked through the Queen of the South v Hearts game last February.  What if he found out that I was Cancer with Leo rising? Does he have the video from that incident with the ACSEF members, the double-sided tape, and AFC’s changing rooms?

We will soon find out. But until then, and probably even after then, I’ll keep doing what I do.

Tally ho!

Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Sep 142015
 

Further questions arise over Northfield Animal Haven’s owner Kelly Cable. Aberdeen Voice can reveal Cable’s past includes a guilty plea for several years of claiming benefits illegally. 

A charity that seeks donations must be wholly above board. Northfield Animal Haven is certainly pushing the envelope as they:

  • Advertise widely that they ‘save all farm animals’ – in truth the owners are also involved in breeding farm animals for sale as meat, claiming ‘everyone knows’ that is how they operate, and claiming that since they don’t slaughter the animals they sell personally, it doesn’t count;
  • Run a GoFundMe campaign to save 6 Shetland ponies in imminent danger – but claim the owner will only allow Northfield to take the animals – which could have been rescued by now;
  • Use the image of ‘Gooseberry’ on this GoFundMe appeal – a white Shetland colt that was dealt with by another animal shelter and needs no assistance;
  • Have similarly used photos of other animals they were not involved with – in at least one instance claiming they were involved directly

Suzanne Kelly reports.

LycomingCowfeat

Misappropriated picture of cow NAH claimed they were attempting to save.

Aberdeen Voice can reveal that Kelly Cable entered a guilty plea for obtaining benefits she was not entitled to. This involved falsifying employment data, falsifying income and not disclosing where she lived. The value of the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit ran to approximately £3,600.

The fraud spanned 2006 to 2009; misleading information was supplied on at least half a dozen occasions. (As an aside, the next time anyone complains they don’t get enough benefits, or that refugees are getting help, remember that benefit fraud is stealing from the taxpayer and from those in serious need).

Kelly and  her then partner borrowed £10,000 for a house purchase, and both signed to repay their share of the loan.

As per Aberdeen Voice’s earlier article, Kelly refused to pay her half, claiming it was not her signature on the loan agreement. A handwriting expert declared that Kelly had signed. The money remains unpaid; the grandparents she borrowed some of the money from have since passed away.

Kelly was also bankrupt; she disputes the date of a document Aberdeen Voice has on this bankruptcy; we await her clarification.

Kelly was irate in one of her communications to the Voice, asking how she could get a mortgage if she had been bankrupt. How indeed someone can get a mortgage who has been bankrupt, who has been found guilty of benefit fraud, and who has a brain tumour is a fair question.

Perhaps the 180 hours of community service Cable did atoned for this fraud. However, when the misleading appeals for funds, the misleading use of animals belonging to others, the unpaid past loan, the bankruptcy are added to this, a picture emerges of someone who may not entirely have been rehabilitated.

While Aberdeen Voice is investigating this operation, Kelly Cable has claimed to receive death threats, claimed to have a brain tumour (presumably the one she had some years back, which she mentions in a handwritten note), and claims to be running a perfectly honest, above-board animal rescue.

Aberdeen Voice initially questioned where these six Shetland ponies are, who owns them, and why the charity is using photographs of animals they have no contact with in its advertising. We would now like to ask whether or not there are actually six Shetland ponies out there in danger of being sold for meat, whose owner will not let anyone but Northfield do the rescue.

Aberdeen Voice would like to ask the Haven if it understands why some people feel they have been misled.

Aberdeen Voice will turn its information over to the relevant authorities, citing particular concerns about finances and misleading advertising. Future developments will be reported.

Realproof2As a parting thought, here is a Tweet from Northfield, claiming they have proved they are real.

The photo is actually from a 2011 Northern Ireland rescue, and is not related to Northfield saving ‘ponies and their babies’.

Saving ewes and their babies doesn’t make the grade however, whatever the Northfield sign and other appeals say.  As to proof the organisation is real, this falls just a bit flat.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jul 012013
 

On Friday 7 June 2013 police surrounded an empty flat; its occupier George Copland was far away.  Reports of a gunman in the flat were obviously incorrect.  Early morning Sunday 9 June Copland was arrested at his girlfriend’s flat – police broke in, took him away, held him for c. 13 hours, and trashed the flat which they laid siege to, looking for weapons.  They found a completely legal air rifle, Copland said he’d kept it under lock and key, and rarely had it out – and had not had it out any time recently.  Copland was asked to agree if several items – remote-controlled toys and a feather duster – could be construed as weapons.  Denied his medication and medical attention, he was released.  The police have no plans to apologise or to pay for trashing his flat, although he has committed no criminal offence.  Suzanne Kelly reports on recent developments.

George Copland is no closer to having any form of apology or compensation for his broken goods and trashed flat.

The Sun newspaper took the story up, complete with a photo showing the devastation following the police search.

It can be found here: Scottish Sun Huckle-duster Gaffe

The rationale for his arrest, following the siege on his empty house, just doesn’t stack up.

If he were a dangerous gunman – then why the huge delay from Friday morning to Sunday morning to find and detain him?  Who was the anonymous tipster, how credible were they, did they know George, and precisely what did they see and where did they see it?  Since nothing illegal was found, where was any compensation for Copland?  They were also questions about the timing of events, what was confiscated and why.

The police did not respond until days later, and after the Aberdeen Voice article was published.

Police were sent some 25 relevant, detailed specific questions; they have declined to answer these.  Their spokeswoman was asked for a quote to use for publication; the reply was as follows (comment from Aberdeen Voice in square brackets):-

“Thank you for your email. I have answered as many of your questions as I can [actually, none of the specific questions were answered]…  however you will appreciate there are operational and data protection constraints which limit what we can comment on publically.”

[I wrote with Copland’s consent; he has now asked for these questions to be answered under Freedom of Information legislation]

“You mention an incident with a hostage on 7 June; at no time has Police Scotland stated that information about a hostage was received and it would be entirely incorrect to report it as such. “

[The Evening Express covered the incident on 7 June, in a piece with a quote from the police.  The article, which can be found here http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/Article.aspx/3269715 , refers to hostage negotiators being present – which certainly implied that a hostage situation was anticipated.  There does not seem to be any record of the Evening Express correcting, or being asked to correct their story, which also referred to the tip-off as turning out to be a hoax.]

 “As per information already in the public domain, I can confirm that Police received a call at 11.25am on Friday 7 June and specialist officers were deployed to carry out a containment of the property.

 “I can also confirm that no one has been arrested or charged in connection with wasting police time and that the information provided to police was well intended but subsequently found to be inaccurate.”

[The Evening Express called the call a hoax, and reported “detained a 29-year-old man in connection with wasting police time” and many papers reported similarly.  This comment from the police to Aberdeen Voice seems to be the first such instance of police saying the tipster was ‘well-intentioned.  There is a legal difference between being arrested and detained; and although a separate Evening Express article used the word ‘arrest’ in conjunction with the caller, Aberdeen Voice has since changed the word ‘arrested’ to ‘detained’ in its article.  The real issue is why the police at the time did not correct the issues which appeared in the mainstream media, and why only now are the police saying the caller was well-intentioned]

“Police Scotland has strict procedures in place to deal with information received from members of the public. The information received was acted upon in an appropriate manner in order to ensure public safety.”

[Well, it is rather obvious the strict procedures have failed spectacularly in this case.  This paragraph is merely a sweeping statement which could be used to justify virtually any act – ‘public safety’ seems to have become carte blanche for erosion of civil rights if this case is anything to go by.]

The Voice did write for further clarification, but was told the police are not prepared to issue any further statement or information.

A Coincidence or something more sinister?  Copland stopped by police again

In the very early hours of Wednesday 26 June, Copland was with friends, and they sought to get into a local late-night casino.  Lacking photo identification, Copland and another man were turned away, and decided to go to the second man’s home in central Aberdeen.  Near the entranceway for the parking area, a police car drove up, separated the two men, and proceeded to question them.  The conversation was described by the second man as follows – the second man happening to be Fred Wilkinson of Aberdeen Voice:-

“About 3.35am, as we got to the entrance of the car park, just round the corner from my house, a police car pulled in in front of us, and divided our paths … I attempted to pass the rear of the car while Dod attempted to pass in front. The window was lowered and the police addressed Dod.

“Male driver asked if he/we had had a good night and what had we been up to.

“Dod told him we had been to the casino, but could not get in –  no photo ID, so we left.

“Female, passenger side, said she had seen us at the casino, then asked Dod what he had in the box he was carrying.

“Dod said ‘I have a remote control UFO ‘ and showed her the box (picture of the ufo flying toy on the box)

“Policewoman suggested that it was an unusual thing to be carrying around on a night out.

“Dod said something like “not for me, I like my gadgets and flying toys. What’s the problem with carrying that kind of stuff about? I’m the guy involved in that police siege in Northfield. Do you not think I’ve had enough hassle lately?”

“I added ” I’m the editor of Aberdeen Voice and we’re covering the story. Do you know about it?”

“The police claimed they did not know ( which I find quite incredible as it was an extremely high profile incident ) so I gave each of them an Aberdeen Voice card and told them “read all about it”. The police left us to go on our way.”

Let us hope this stop and question incident is a coincidental one-off.  Otherwise, it would look as if a man who is questioning the police on their unfair treatment of him is being shadowed.

Compensation

George Copland advised the Voice the police have absolutely no plans to compensate him for his destroyed property, trashed flat and detainment.  The Voice will be looking into this.  Thankfully, while not enshrined in law, it would seem to be the case under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) that there is a right to apply for compensation:-

“[police should be ]explaining compensation may be payable in appropriate cases for damages caused entering and searching premises, and giving the address to send a compensation application, see Note 6A; (v) stating this Code is available at any police station”

Further evidence suggests the police are normally willing to pay such compensation when a search does not turn up illegal items being searched for under the terms of a warrant.

Copland supplied the name of the officer who told him he would not be receiving any compensation; we were unable to contact her prior to publication, but will continue to try and speak with her.

Watch This Space

As this story stands today, the police seem to have carte blanche to act on the word of an anonymous tipster – which then morphs into a tipster with corroborated witnesses – lay siege to and search any premises they choose, subsequently arresting the renter/owner – even  if they are not at or involved with any siege or illegal activity.  No compensation seems to go to an innocent man who was held for around 13 hours and asked to explain toys and a duster, while going without necessary medication.

The police will be more than welcome to send a written response to this article, but at the time of writing, if you have any neighbours who have a grudge against you, if you have anyone in your area who fabricates sensationalist stories, then don’t’ be surprised if your flat is searched and you are woken by police arresting you.

Let us hope for some real transparency from the police and some real compensation for a wronged party.

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Mar 212018
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

For people who care about animal welfare, supporting an animal shelter seems like a great way to help – but how many know what kind of shelter they are donating to? Last August Zara Brown, who said she was running a shelter, was found to have committed a catalogue of horrific offences.

Investigators found, for instance, a freezer stuffed with seven dead dogs and a cat.

Animals were left in dark, cold buildings with inadequate food and water and without medical treatment.

The courts were told poor Zara was depressed and was unable to cope.  She got off very lightly for the cruelty inflicted.

Then we learned she was a convicted fraudster to the value of some £37,000.

Clearly we cannot have people who are convicted fraudsters handling animals and money.

Facebook posts show that awareness of huge problems at her animal sanctuary existed long before she was ever convicted – why was no action taken?

A recent proposal to the Scottish government would see the SSPCA and police tackle the unscrupulous animal charity.  However, is the SSPCA really the right body to deal with this?

One long-running animal welfare group, Animal Concern Advice Line, likes the idea, but opposes SSPCA involvement. It recently told its supporters:

“We oppose this for three main reasons.

“1: The Scottish SPCA is the largest owner and operator of animal rescue centres in Scotland and as such should be regulated and policed by the scheme just like every other rescue and rehoming operation.

“2: Some of the smaller rescue, rehab and rehoming operatives harbour ill feeling towards the Scottish SPCA and would find it extremely difficult to be part of any scheme administered and/or policed by the SSPCA.

“3: Dumping the administration and policing of any scheme on the shoulders of the Scottish SPCA would mean that yet again the Scottish SPCA would be spending charity donations to do work which should be funded by central or local government thus reducing the resources available to the Scottish SPCA to help animals for whom no-one has a legal duty of care.”

Sadly the SSPCA has come in for a lot of deserved criticism of late. Its issues include:

  • Raising the chief executive’s salary to a whopping £216,000 without any consultation with the army of donors (I collected money for the SSPCA and donated for years – to help animals not to pay a massive salary to an executive – Suzanne).  The latest on this is that the chair has left.
  • Killing a harmless snake which was misidentified as poisonous by putting it in a freezer to die alone in the dark.  I asked repeatedly why, when the snake had already been captured could it not have been left alone until an expert could assess it – no answer was forthcoming.

When the salary of the chairman went up, the SSPCA closed its Shetland facility, with Mike Flynn of the SSPCA making the shocking claim that the SSPCA’s role was not to keep a building open in case there was an oil spill.

The facility was not strictly used for oil-accidents, and the closure dismayed residents.

Keeping the shelter open would have cost a fraction of what the chair’s salary rise was.

Initially Mr Flynn was critical of an Aberdeen scheme to kill deer on Tullos Hill to plant trees (a government report had already said trees could not be established in numbers because of the soil matrix being poor).  He was cheered for condemning the move – but when later asked for further comments on the scheme he called ‘abhorrent’ he simply stopped replying to correspondence.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line has been campaigning for licensing and policing of animal rescue centres and sanctuaries for many years.

He said:

“I want to see all animal rescue and rehoming centres brought up to a high minimum standard of animal welfare, public safety and financial accountability. Sadly a small number of rescuers get it very wrong causing animals to suffer and the public to lose trust in the whole sector.

“Some put people at risk of death by placing potentially dangerous dogs in totally unsuitable new homes. Others fail to carry out  proper home checks and risk placing animals with potential abusers. Most of the problems are caused by well-intentioned people who don’t have the space, skills or finances to do things properly.

“Regretfully a few are criminals who knowingly abuse and neglect animals while conning the public and grant-giving trust funds out of money.

“It is a great pity that the many  good and trustworthy rescue centres are going to encounter a bit more red tape and expense to meet a new licencing regime but that is what it is going to take to get rid of the cowboys and criminals.

“One major problem is in finding an organisation to administer and police the licensing scheme.

“The Government wants the Scottish SPCA to run things but that would be wrong as the Scottish SPCA has more animal rescue centres than any other organisation and should not police itself.

“Police Scotland and local authorities, some of which have their own rescue kennels, have legal responsibilities for stray dogs thus rendering them unsuitable to manage the scheme.

“I suggest responsibility  be given either to the existing Animal & Plant Health Agency or to a new body created by the Scottish Government.”

A bona-fide animal rescue will either be a registered Scottish charity or will otherwise let you look at its accounts.

A genuine rescue will not be selling animals for slaughter while asking people to donate to save the lives of other animals – it is not possible to do both ethically, morally or logically (how can one pig be worth saving and another pig be worth killing?).

As the Scottish consultation points to the unsuitability of convicted fraudsters handling public donations, no reputable animal rescue will have anyone who has form as a fraudster or confidence trickster taking in donations.

Hopefully a suitable arrangement can be found, but for reasons pointed out by Mr Robins and by this article, the SSPCA should not be involved in regulating an industry it itself participates in – and which has failed in its duty.

Spotlight on Northfield Animal Haven

Despite its continuing threats to close (and its threats and insinuations against its critics), Northfield Animal Haven continues to:

  • Seek donations, buy animals (wrong for any charity, but wrong for one so apparently short of funds).
  • Sell animals at Thainstone market, where many if not all will wind up slaughtered.

Here is an extract from a previous article. Despite false claims from Northfield, neither Aberdeen Voice or Suzanne Kelly (myself) have been in any way prevented from writing about the odd goings-on at this place.

Fact Recap:

  • That Kelly Cable is a convicted benefit fraudster [3]– this calls her honesty into question;
  • That Kelly Cable denied signing for a substantial loan [4]– again her honesty was thrown in doubt;
  • That signs and funding appeals stating ‘all farm animals are rescued are misleading [5].There seem to be two Northfields – one that keeps some animals as rescues – while breeding for sale from these [6.1-3], and one that sells animals at Thainstone Market and privately where slaughter is the almost inevitable outcome [7]This schism is condemned by many animal welfare professionals including John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line [8].
  • When cornered on this issue, Kelly has made posts along the lines of ‘everyone’knows that she operates a working farm and that the reason she uses pictures of animals in her appeal such as sheep and cattle that are not to be rescued is ‘people have asked to see all the animals’ [9]. Donors Aberdeen Voice had contact with were completely in the dark on the point, and would never have donated to money to an institution that breeds from its rescue for sales, and raises farm animals for commercial purposes.
  • That Cable used, without any contact or permission, images of animals she had nothing to do with for fundraising purposes – this calls transparency and honesty into question (the image on the left of an emaciated bovine is not an animal Cable was trying to rescue; it is from 2011 in the USA  [10].
  • That Cable has claimed to different witnesses to have disabilities and illnesses [11.1-11.4]; she has told several people these illnesses lead her to use cannabis on the farm and that alcohol and drug use by others is tolerated by her at Northfield around the 170 animals she says she cares for single-handedly. This clearly poses threats to animal welfare – and that has led to serious consequences as this article will demonstrate. This drug use should also be of serious concern to anyone using her animal assisted therapy programme.
  • There are allegations of cannabis sales which the authorities are aware of [12]. (As an aside, cannabis can be a very therapeutic medical boon to some. The appropriateness of seeking public donations while using/selling cannabis on a farm by a disabled woman who purports to single-handedly care for over 170 animals where neglect and deaths have occurred should raise red flags to animal welfare authorities and those concerned with public safety).
  • Northfield has itself posted about animals that have died ‘from a broken heart’ or overeating.
  • Northfield has also posted that Suzanne Kelly was involved in going to their farm, damaging fences, locking a pony in a food store where it ate itself to death.
  • A previous Northfield Facebook administrator, Fiona Manclark, was ordered to pay Suzanne Kelly £15,000 plus costs for repeated libel (Manclark had months in which to simply make an apology without facing any costs, but forced the matter to court). Ms Manclark spectacularly wrote to the court to excuse her failure to turn up, and in her letter she wrote that cannabis is routinely used at Northfield, a claim which fits in with other peoples’ allegations of drug use and dealing.  While many people feel cannabis use should be legalised, many would question whether a disabled woman who claims to care for over 70 animals, some of whom have died in her care from exposure and feeding issues – and who offers animal therapy to young people – should mix cannabis with an animal welfare charity offering therapy.
  • Ms Cable is a convicted benefit fraudster (see past AV articles).

This all adds up to irresponsibility fiscally, operationally, and safety wise on a worrying scale.

https://aberdeenvoice.com/2016/10/northfield-animal-haven-haven-hell/

Northfield and its supporters first began to attack Aberdeen Voice and myself when we repeated a press release (the Press & Journal printed it too) merely calling for a voluntary registration scheme for shelters which would ensure animal welfare.

What Northfield will make of mandatory regulation excluding fraudsters from running animal charities remains to be seen, but whether or not the SSPCA is involved, a regulator in this sector will spell the end for any fraudsters operating animal shelter charities.

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Apr 112017
 

By Fin Hall.

Nuart Aberdeen has finally arrived. A first for the city, sees a collection of street artists, organised by Aberdeen Inspired gather to paint, talk and show films etc over the Easter

Old and rarely used doors on the streets within the city centre, mainly around the Merchant Quarter, are being painted in different styles by different artists.

Among the artists participating in this current international project is Julien de Casabianca, a French/Corsican artist.

His Outgoing project features images of paintings in art galleries, often taken by members of the public on their phones, the main subject from said painting isolated via photoshop, then printed onto paper.

This paper is then pasted on buildings, walls etc in public spaces.

To this end various primary schools were invited to send a group of children to Aberdeen Museum Treasure Hub in Northfield, a building which stores many of the works of art that have been relocated from the Art Gallery during the refurbishment that is currently ongoing.

I was in invited by Aberdeen Inspired and NuArt to catalogue this process, working with Manor Park, Riverbank and Walker Road schools.

On arrival, the children were told what the general purpose of their visit would entail, before being split into two or three groups. I would stick with one of the groups each time. This took place on three Thursdays in March.

In the first part of their session, the children would be in an almost classroom like situation where they were given practically free rein to express themselves art wise.

They had a large wall mounted monitor complete with a white screen where they could copy images from the Art Gallery’s digital representation of the art works in it’s collection, or just draw whatever they wished; there were props and dressing up clothes so they could utilise and get their friends to take photos of themselves, or take selfies, with their iPads.

Also, there were word searches and sheets of A4 paper which had a pre-printed frame on, so they could draw whatever took their fancy. It was interesting to watch and see how they reacted and the choice they made. Some would throw themselves wholeheartedly into it, others just sat quietly and concentrated on drawing.

After about 45 minutes, the group I was with were taken through into the first of two storage rooms, with their iPads, to view and photograph the paintings, or rather, parts of paintings, be it a figure, an animal or something like a tree.

the youngsters had ever seen such paintings, and they were quite amazed

This room contained paintings of various sizes and from various eras, stored in racks which slid out when pulled. These works of art were paintings done on either canvas or or other fabrics, but not paper.

Some of the works they weren’t able to capture because they are still under copyright, or were covered in protective tape and plastic, but many others were available.

This was the first time that many of  and interested in them. I had to explain to them that they should concentrate on just part of a painting, and not fill their screen with the whole thing, some of which, as you can imagine were rather large.

After that they were led into a smaller room where paintings and drawings done on paper, were stored in drawers. Some of these drawers were already pulled out and at just the right height for the children to stand over, making sure that their device covers were either removed or held securely up, and snap until their hearts’ content.

The net result is that selected photographs the children have taken will be chosen to be the ones used by Julian to paste up in the East Green – an area other artists will be utilising, and where the official opening ceremony on Saturday 15th April will take place.

This part of he city already has several doors from the Painted Doors project already in situ. So it is the perfect location for the hub of the event.

Saying that, there will be several events taking place in the few days leading up to that. See the NuArt website for details.

All in all it was a pleasure to be involved with the schoolchildren.

The Treasure Hub is available for group and organisation tours. It is well worth visiting. So, this coming week get out and about in the city centre and see this unique event.

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Apr 072017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Youngsters from Aberdeen schools have delved into the city’s prestigious art collection to get inspiration for their special involvement in Nuart Aberdeen.
Pupils from Manor Park, Woodside, Riverbank, Seaton and Walker Road primary schools got the opportunity to explore a wide range of art at the Treasure Hub in Northfield, currently being kept in safe storage while the Aberdeen Art Gallery undergoes its multi-million pound redevelopment. 

The sessions were held as part of The Outings Project, a participatory public art project founded by the globally renowned artist Julian de Casabianca.

The artist, who is participating in the inaugural Nuart Aberdeen festival, will work with the youngsters to paste their selected characters at specific sites in Aberdeen city centre.

Pupils had the opportunity to examine a number of paintings from the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections, from Portrait of a Lady (The Artist’s Wife) by William Dyce to La Perla de Triana by John Phillip, among others, choosing and photographing their favourite characters to share with the Aberdeen public.

They will then enlarge and paste them up in the city centre under the guidance of Julian, as well as in their own schools and neighbourhoods – getting the change to turn the streets into temporary art galleries during the festival, which is taking place from Friday April 14 to Sunday April 16.

The artworks that the children accessed for this project aren’t currently on display, giving the public a wonderful opportunity to enjoy them in a new way.

It is hoped that the project will help children feel involved in the festival, especially as their efforts will also be displayed in their local areas, as well as encourage new audiences to engage with the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums collection.

There are a number of fun ways for youngsters and families to get involved in Nuart Aberdeen including street printing and chalk drawing workshops, walking tours and an Easter Sunday Street Art hunt.

Nuart Aberdeen will officially open on Saturday April 15, when Herakut’s monumental mural on the façade of Aberdeen Market will be unveiled before the guided Street Art tours begin.

Local breakdance group Bring It Boys will perform a ‘Street Art’ inspired routine created especially for the event.

Also on Saturday, the street printing workshop with Berlin-based collective Raubdruckerin will teach participants how to transform old clothes with street inspired graphic designs from the area in and around Castlegate.

The Chalk Don’t Chalk workshop, being held on St Nicholas Centre’s Rooftop Garden on Sunday April 16, gives children of all ages the “freedom of the city” to create their own chalk street art pieces, with professional artists on hand to teach and guide children on their designs.

Belgian street artist Jaune has been busy hiding his mischievous bin men and women around Aberdeen city centre for the Easter Sunday Street Art hunt also on Sunday. Children can follow the hints provided to find six hidden artworks and win a special Easter Sunday prize.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, director at Aberdeen Inspired and partner at sponsor Burness Paull, said:

“It was wonderful to see the children enjoying the sessions at The Treasure Hub and getting so involved. Nuart Aberdeen is a legacy project for us and we are really looking forward to seeing their paste-ups in the city centre and their local communities.

“This particular project was the brainchild of Julian de Casabianca and it was intended for local children to feel ownership of these images. It is also hoped that they will bring their families to enjoy the Art Gallery when it re-opens in 2018/19 because it will feel, quite rightly, as if they are artists, in the same way as those displayed in our local art space are.

“We would like to extend our thanks to Aberdeen City Council for supporting school staff during these project, as well as community staff who will help with the next stage, and of course, the Aberdeen Art Gallery staff who facilitated the sessions at the Treasure Hub.

“There will be a range of fun events that youngsters and their families can take advantage of during Nuart Aberdeen and I would urge everyone to check out the programme and enjoy what is on offer.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said:

“We are absolutely delighted that our schools and pupils are participating so enthusiastically in the latest festival offering in Aberdeen’s cultural calendar. We have placed a huge emphasis on culture and education and to bring the two together at the Treasure Hub and for the children to work with a globally renowned artist is absolutely fantastic.”

For more information on Nuart Aberdeen please visit http://www.nuartaberdeen.co.uk/

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

More information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Sep 202016
 

One of my more volatile investigations published in Aberdeen Voice concerns Northfield Animal Haven. One of its former Facebook page administrators, Fiona Manclark, persistently posted defamatory comments about me across social media sites – and later claimed a hacker had got into her Twitter, Facebook and email accounts and made the remarks, not her.

Refusing to delete these comments – that I was an ‘alkie’ and a liar’ – and failing to submit any evidence to back these slanderous claims, Fiona Manclark dared me on several occasions to sue her. So eventually I did. And by default, I’ve prevailed. I won’t get the requested apology as it was a default situation. But the court has awarded damages to me.

Don’t feel too sorry for her: she was given numerous chances to delete the material and to apologise, all of which she refused to do over the months – but the upshot is she is to pay me £10,000 plus costs (currently being determined).

Here’s how things built up, what happened, and in a series of articles, I will lay bare the story behind the legal action, expose more concerns about NAH, and share my thoughts at having to stop writing about NAH or Manclark while the legal action was live. By Suzanne Kelly.

Northfield Sheep to mart fb screenshotFiona Manclark was an administrator for Northfield Animal Haven’s Facebook page. I was investigating NAH; this came about after a relatively innocuous article, ‘Reputable Animal Charities Initiative’ was published in early June 2015,

The piece stemmed from a press release; the Press & Journal ran the same story.

It was merely a call for standards in the animal rescue/welfare sector – a charity sector in which more than a few scams take place.

By this time, I had heard distant rumblings about Northfield Animal Haven and the family operating it.

The response to the article from Fiona Manclark’s email was this:

“I find it disgusting and absolutely shocking at how biased this paper is. I seen the remarks that your so called journalist made on one of the animal sanctuary sites, and it was disgusting. The woman that runs the sanctuary that is so very obviously being spoken about here, works very hard and does it all herself.

“Your (so called) journalist was invited up on more than one occasion. But she never turned up at all. So how she has the audacity to speak about sanctuaries this way, without knowing the facts is not only slander, but is very very poor journalism. I can only assume that she couldn’t find the time to leave the brewdog beer for long enough.

“I really really hope that some of the sanctuaries get together and sue this paper.”

The AV Editor, acting as Moderator wrote:

“[This comment is being published in full, in spite of obvious and valid reasons why some content contravenes publication criteria, as it has been published in full on a public facebook page. Therefore it appears futile to edit – Moderator]”

I had been asking Northfield (NAH) questions by this point – but they had NOT been mentioned in the article.

It was Fiona’s bringing NAH into the context of the article that sparked off a small flood of people making contact with me.

People with past dealings with NAH or its owner Kelly Cable and/or her father Eric shared concerns about animal welfare, how funds are managed, what goes on at the farm, Cable’s past conviction for benefit fraud, and other allegations. Almost all of the concerns came from people who were fearful of the Cables discovering the source’s identity.

Considering that Eric Cable chose to mention an AK47 on a Facebook post concerning my articles, I fully understand the fear that some of my sources have.

People chose to come to me with their evidence and anecdotes; if they had been convinced by the repetitive assertions I was a liar and an alcoholic, they well might have gone to other writers instead, or not come forward at all. Manclark/the alleged hacker – if unchallenged — would have damaged my reputation personally and professionally; this will be touched on in a future piece. I asked Manclark numerous times to take down her derogatory remarks. She – or this alleged hacker – refused.

What were some of the issues I found? Northfield Animal Haven claimed to ‘rescue all farm animals’ – it had for instance a sign showing a variety of farm animals, which declared it rescued all farm animals. In reality, while one arm of this family business purports to rescue farm animals; the other arm sells farm animals at market.

Some animal lovers were horrified when they discovered they were supporting a person who was involved in rescue but who was also involved in sending animals to market – which more often than not can mean sending them to slaughter.

Kelly Cable responded along the lines that ‘everyone’ knows that she also operates a ‘working farm’ and it is not her concern what happens to animals she sells (more on these issues in further articles in this series).

As documented in a previous Aberdeen Voice article, Kelly Cable responded:

“all of our supporters are aware of what we do with our sheep”

When questioned in detail about whether or not the sold animals are killed she replied:

“I don’t send them [sheep] for slaughter the people who buy them after me probably do but I don’t personally so what I stated was fact….”

Northfield was, shall we say, creative with fundraising. Using photos of Shetland ponies and emaciated cows, NAH claimed to need funds for urgent rescue and launched online fundraising appeals. When these images were put into Google search by Aberdeen Voice and other concerned parties, it emerged either the ponies depicted were happily homed and had no connection to Northfield – or in the case of the cows – were in… America.

Cable claimed to be rescuing them:

“They dumped them in a shed I’ve been feeding them since Friday”

“Thank you if I can raise about a £1000 at least that will get them here food for a few weeks and vet care”

The truth was just a bit different back in 2011 when Lycospca (based in Lycoming County, USA) wrote about the same animals:

“Thank goodness someone saw these poor animals and called us to check up on them. The owner had grain in the barn and they were ordered to get a round bale.”

If the casual observer had read Kelly’s messages about the cows, they’d have believed she had just seen them, and that they had little time in which to raise funds. As for the shetland ponies, owners of two of these were less than pleased to find their photos had been used for NAH fundraising without their permission.

There will be further analysis and revelations in the next articles.

Manclark’s comments – a timeline:

If Fiona Manclark had been hacked, the hack went on for six months. She would also appear not to have taken down any of the offensive comments the alleged hacker made over the months until late December when my legal action against her attempted smear on me was in progress.

The alleged hacker managed to get her Facebook, Twitter and email accounts and use them to communicate with people including her friends – none of which picked up on the claim Manclark made that she didn’t know me or AV, or that they weren’t speaking to Manclark but to a hacker.

Date Poster/Author Social Media/publication Comment
02/06/15 Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Aberdeen Voice – comments on article ‘Reputable Animal Charities Initiative’ – nb this story came as a press release and was also published by the Press & Journal. I find it disgusting and absolutely shocking at how biased this paper is. I seen the remarks that your so called journalist made on one of the animal sanctuary sites, and it was disgusting. The woman that runs the sanctuary that is so very obviously being spoken about here, works very hard and does it all herself. Your (so called) journalist was invited up on more than one occasion. But she never turned up at all. So how she has the audacity to speak about sanctuaries this way, without knowing the facts is not only slander, but is very very poor journalism. I can only assume that she couldn’t find the time to leave the brewdog beer for long enough.
I really really hope that some of the sanctuaries get together and sue this paper.** [This comment is being published in full, in spite of obvious and valid reasons why some content contravenes publication criteria, as it has been published in full on a public facebook page. Therefore it appears futile to edit – Moderator]
18/08/15 Suzanne Kelly Twitter Mummyalfi (Manclark’s Twitter account name) Further to my earlier tweet, I consider calling me a liar and an alcoholic to be libel. Remove your posts, apologise
04/09/15 Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Twitter SueKelly10 (Suzanne Kelly’s Twitter account name) So sue me. You are a liar and you are an alkie, so no, I will not apologise for telling people the truth.
05/09/15 (approx) Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Facebook, Northfield Animal Haven home page (Posting as Northfield Animal Haven) Fiona here. Suzanne Kelly who “writes” for the voice. She’s Sue Kelly on Twitter and is the biggest cretin I have ever come across. She is a liar, a keyboard warrior and an alkie. Dangerous combination. And for the record, it’s me (Fiona) that is saying all of this. Not on behalf of Northfield Animal Haven, or Kelly, just on what I’ve had to witness from this thing.
08/09/15 Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Aberdeen Voice – comments on article ‘Animal Shelter Operator Is A Smooth Operator Suzanne, please do take me to court. Your reputation means everything to you?
You haven’t even been to visit Kelly even though you have been invited many times.
And you have been seen coming out (or should I say falling out) of brewdog on many occasions. So until you remove your rubbish about Kelly, I will not be removing my truths about you.
08/09/15 Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Aberdeen Voice – comments on article ‘Animal Shelter Operator Is A Smooth Operator I can’t wait to hear from your solicitor. You have been seen on many occasions falling out of brewdog, so that’s not libel, that’s the truth.
19/12/15 Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Facebook, Suzanne Kelly’s home page (Fiona or the alleged hacker) sees a comment from a man she knows on my page and comments:
“… please tell me you don’t know this ahem person”
22/12/15 (approx Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) Voice message left for my solicitor Fiona Manclark (? hacker?) tells us to ‘go ahead and sue’ – Manclark later admits to making this call, but claims she was ill/stressed at the time.

 

Aberdeen Voice has also seen Facebook discussions between Ms Manclark and others in which Manclark mentions the threat of legal action from me, and complains I sent her a profusion of private messages.

The truth is that I sent one message to her, asking her to remove offensive comments; an Aberdeen Voice editor was on copy of the message. Fiona Manclark (or this mysterious hacker) replied refusing to retract the comments. None of the people in these discussions suspected that they were communicating with a hacker; none question Manclark’s assertion to the court that she’d only heard of me/Aberdeen Voice after hearing from my lawyer.

When someone is hacked, there is every chance that their email/social media provider will at the very least send a message of concern – login from an unusual site, unusual activity on the account, etc.

When items sent or posted from a hacker haven’t been deleted, then a hacking victim would see them in their outbox, on their home page, in their twitter feed, etc. – and know something was amiss, delete them and report a suspected hack. None of this seems to fit the pattern we are asked by Manclark to believe.

The hack allegedly went on from June through December – apparently without Manclark realising it was taking place. Sometimes the alleged hacker was able to respond very quickly (see Aberdeen Voice comments for instance).

Ms Manclark recently claimed to the court that she gave all of her passwords to Kelly Cable at Northfield Animal Haven: if there were a hack, and if the police had been asked to investigate by Manclark, I wonder where the trail would have led – to some mysterious hacker, or a computer closer to home?

Then again, should we take Manclark’s word there was a hacker over this period of time using three of her accounts?

Was there a mysterious hacker with a vendetta against me with regard to Northfield that took place for months – or was this all the work of Fiona Manclark?

Fiona Manclark refused my lawyer’s first request to remove the posts from social media and apologise publically for them. When she refused, we started the legal action against her. After months of waiting to see if she would get legal aid to fight the case, legal aid was denied, and a court date was set.

Manclark wrote a letter to the court rather than appearing before it in August. In her letter she sticks to the claim she had been hacked. She claims it was reported to the police, but she never supplied evidence to back this up such as a police incident number.

She refused to help me have the police investigate the hacking claim. I was a third party victim of the hack she claims to have suffered.

The police could have investigated it – only if Manclark had been willing to co-operate. My lawyer wanted her to go to the police with me to report it, and she refused on the grounds ‘she didn’t know me’. Well, the person using her accounts certainly knew me well enough – to respond by blocking me.

It would appear from the legal decision in my favour the courts might have at the very least had their doubts as to her claims.

Manclark had quite a bit to say in her written submission to the court, which Aberdeen Voice editors have now seen. This will be the subject of the next article.

It is my understanding now that the court’s decision is absolute. It is time for Ms Manclark – or the mysterious hacker – to think about making restitution to me. My thoughts on the defamation, the legal process, and Ms Manclark’s arguments (such as they are) will be one of the articles in this series.

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Aug 262016
 

No activity, however benign it should be, is safe from scams and frauds. Before assuming that every photo of an animal to be rescued is genuine – before assuming any charity is genuine, here are some points to bear in mind. By Suzanne Kelly.

willowsgingerEveryone who loves animals can have that sentimentality turned into a powerful weapon by scammers and fraudsters.

Reputable animal charities, animal welfare organisations, consumer protection bodies will all warn you to be careful who you send your money
to.

Scambusters identifies the seven most common types of animal charity frauds on its website.

Top of the list is people soliciting donations for animals that do not exist or that are nothing to do with the charity. Aberdeen Voice reported on one such story locally.

Northfield Animal Haven used photographs on several occasions in its fundraising – and the photographs turned out to be animals that had no connection to this organisation at all.

Despite bluster, threats and denials from Northfield, the facts remain:  the photos used were of other people’s animals which had no connection to NAH.

Some of the owners were extremely displeased at the use of photographs appropriated from their own websites without permission – which would not have been granted.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line said:

“Regretfully the time is long overdue when all animal sanctuaries and rescue centres need to be licensed, inspected by an independent authority and maintained to high minimum standards. A true animal sanctuary does not send any animals to slaughter, does not breed animals and does its best to find good homes for life for the animals it rescues.

“Numerous times a year we hear of “sanctuaries” which are really no more than well-meaning animal hoarders where one or two people, without the necessary space, financial resources or expertise take in numerous cats and/or dogs and sometimes farm animals and horses . Before long they discover they cannot pay for vets’ bills or even for food for the animals. The animals end up ill, emaciated and infested with worms, ticks, fleas and other parasites.

“Sometimes by the time the authorities realise there is a problem all they find are dead and dying animals. If you are requested to donate to an animal sanctuary there are several questions you should ask first. Is the sanctuary a registered charity? If the answer is ‘yes’ double-check with the Charity Regulator. If the answer is ‘no’ ask why not and how can they survive without the extra money charity status provides.

Ask for copies of its constitution and most recent accounts. Find out what animals it has and how it rehomes them. Are the animals neutered and is the sanctuary registered with a local vet? If you re-home an animal from a rescue centre, expect to pay a realistic fee to cover veterinary costs such as neutering, vaccinations and micro-chipping. Do not agree to pay a rescue centre large sums of money for pedigree dogs or fashionable cross-breeds.

“Expect the rescue centre to home-check you to ensure your premises are suitable for the animal you are taking on. If they do not do a home check they are not doing their job properly. Do not confuse animal sanctuaries with commercial enterprises such as working farms with visitor facilities, petting zoos or commercial falconry centres.”

Hoarders too masquerade as rescues. Any person or organisation that takes in more animals than it can support or continues to take in animals while unable to afford basics for existing rescues may well be a hoarder. Best Friends Animal Society has this to say on the subject:

“Collective denial – of individuals, of the whole group – may have contributed to the cats’ suffering. “It’s becoming a common thing,” says Dr. Gary Patronek, a veterinarian, epidemiologist and director of animal welfare and protection for the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the founder of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC).

“We really don’t understand how groups of people, as opposed to individuals acting alone, could ignore suffering and death in a shelter or rescue environment. At least three different types of hoarders have been identified: overwhelmed caregiver, rescue hoarder and exploiter hoarder. It is the latter that is the least likely to have good intentions.””

One final word: any reputable charity will always make measured, logical, precise responses to the public’s concerns. Does your chosen charity answer questions in a suitable detail, or does it make an emotional, threatening, illogical response? Your clue is in the charity’s behaviour.

Always check a charity is registered, how old it is, and the owner/operator’s background may also offer further clues as to its reputation.

How to help animals? Choose transparent shelters; do not buy pedigree breeds when you can adopt animals instead (our area Scottish SPCA rescue is a great place to find a pet). Get your dog or cat neutered. And – be careful where your charity pounds are going.

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