IN THE NAME OF CHARITY
Sex Scandal Topples Tory Christian Charity Boss
A Christian charity boss lauded by Boris Johnson resigned in disgrace after a sordid affair with a volunteer he was supposed to be saving from sex slavery.
Wilson Chowdhry, 47, has been feted by prime ministers, Lords and celebrities for his work protecting vulnerable women from religious persecution and sexual abuse.
The married father of three received an award from Boris Johnson for his community work and was a guest of David Cameron at Downing Street.
But Chowdhry’s reputation now lies in tatters after what he admitted to The Upsetter were a series of “moral failures” involving a sexual relationship with 33-year-old Australian Lara Hall.
The law graduate briefly made international headlines for “escaping” a man who allegedly “groomed” her over the internet then held her as his sex slave in Pakistan.
Chowdhry, through his Essex-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), took up Hall’s case after she made it back to Australia.
She felt “trauma bonded” to Chowdhry, with whom she worked as a volunteer and then had an affair lasting five months.
The charity boss discussed marriage and children then ended the relationship abruptly after his wife found out.
The BPCA trustees turned on Hall when she wanted their help. She felt “slut shamed” and trolled as a temptress.
Hall reported Chowdhry to the Australian police. She alleged there was a dark side to the Christian charity boss: He was addicted to violent porn and during his visit to Melbourne he forced her to perform ‘deep throat’ oral sex to the point of asphyxiation.
Hall said she put up with it because of her low self esteem and a complex mental disorder due to a difficult childhood.
“My hero had become my abuser and it was the greatest betrayal of trust,” Hall told The Upsetter.
With the support of two senior MPs, Hall complained to the UK Charity Commission, which also launched an investigation.
This May, the regulator published a damning report into British Pakistani Christians Limited, the charitable company behind the BPCA.
The Commission criticised the response of trustees when Hall first reported her sexual misconduct and abuse of power allegations to them.
The regulator was also concerned about an obvious conflict of interest because not only was Chowdhry the chairman of the BPCA at the time, his wife Juliet and other business associates were the trustees.
The BPCA has changed its name to the British Asian Christian Association. But the website gives no details about the Charity Commission’s findings yet continues to solicit public donations.
Chowdhry, who has political ambitions to be a Tory councillor, denies the rape allegations and was never charged with any offence.
However, he quietly resigned as BPCA chairman before the Charity Commission report came out on 19 May.
Chowdhry claims he is the real victim of this scandal and alleges that Hall drugged and raped him in Australia.
He told The Upsetter he pretended to enjoy frequent oral sex to pacify Hall who was infatuated with him.
Hall has shared numerous misogynistic sexts and recordings with The Upsetter, which contradict Chowdhry’s version of events.
She denies rape and is apologetic for having an affair with Chowdhry:
“I am a complex victim … I am the canary down the mineshaft because my case is illuminative of a far greater problem in the charity sector.”
Lara Hall paints a very bleak picture of growing up in 1990s Australia with her twin sister.
They were the product of a “dysfunctional” marriage, she says. And when their parents split, her “distant and cold” mother remarried twice.
Initially, teachers thought the twins were slow, but any learning difficulties were down to coming from an “unsafe home”.
Lara carries “years of guilt” for not protecting her twin. And when called “stupid”, she was determined to prove her mother wrong.
“I began to have OCD-like symptoms as a teenager. I felt guilty for everything and I had a need to confess everything all the time. I approached my mother about it and she could not render appropriate assistance or give me any compassion. I was not formally diagnosed until around 2014. I have tried many medications over the years.”
Lara’s sister, who asked not to be named, is very supportive of her twin. “Perhaps you know this about my sister, I don’t know if she has told you, but she has Harm OCD – this is a condition where you don’t want to cause harm to anyone or identify with anyone who does cause harm,” she explained.
“I definitely believe that my childhood formed the basis of how I respond to trauma and perhaps the fact that I have tended to stay longer in abusive situations than I ordinarily would if I had a softer place to fall and higher self esteem.”
Young adulthood, however, was “emancipating” and Lara recalls graduating with good degrees in English and Sociology and then Law.
It was in Sydney, during a chance encounter on a train in 2012, that the then 24-year-old says she met a recently arrived Pakistani woman. They became friends over the next five years.
“I became essentially an honorary member of their family. I was over there all the time teaching English and helping them with adjusting to Australian life. In return they would make me delicious food and we would sit and have chats and laughs. We were all friends.”
At the time, Lara was going through a difficult period with an Asian boyfriend who was experiencing a mental health crisis that eventually broke them up.
Her OCD was triggered, she says, and she found support from members of her adopted immigrant family, in particular a man in Pakistan who she started talking to over the internet for the next few years.
“I found his empathy attractive. While we discussed a potential future, even marriage, and some shared goals and dreams I, at times, put the brakes on it and tempered all this with pragmatism and the fact that we need to get to know each other more to see if there was a future.”
Four years later, in April 2018, Lara accepted an invite to his brother’s wedding in Pakistan. Her flight was paid and promises made of “grand things”.
“I went there on a 30 day stay visa with the intention of getting to know him to see if the friendship could develop into a romance. Initially, when I met him, I had some feelings for him because I had a long period of getting to know him on the net and he was initially quite pleasant over the first initial days.
I did have a few initial consensual sexual encounters with him. However, once I discovered he was lying to such a significant degree and discovered his controlling behaviour, I felt very upset as though he had lured me and I didn't want this any further … I tried through the internet to network with anyone and everyone.”
For two months Lara said she was effectively held hostage, starved and raped. She points to a “wealth of evidence in audios, texts and pictures of the abuse suffered” on her phone.
The local Pakistan police eventually responded to the digital SOS and she was escorted from the man’s house.
As an overstayer on a tourist visa she was fined and had to crowdfund her ticket back to Australia in October 2018.
The Pakistani man denied Hall’s claims and was never prosecuted. Critics point to her “happy” posts on social media at the time of her alleged ordeal as evidence she is lying. She says some of these posts were faked by her enemies:
“Happy pictures at the start of my trip do not negate the fact I was abused. I am more than confident with a dossier of evidence I have that I can show what happened to me in Pakistan. Also at times I had to curate a happy image so [he] would not know I had plans to leave.”
In 2010, Boris Johnson, then London mayor, garlanded Wilson Chowdhry with the capital’s Peace Awards for services to community cohesion.
Shafiq Ur Rehman Wilson Chowdhry was thirty-five at the time and trying to make a name for himself in his home borough of Redbridge, where east London meets Essex.
The award citation described him as “a proactive leader in his community inspiring many with his courage and bravery. Acting as an interface between communities and the Police and ASBO teams his work has helped address issues of anti social behaviour and helped foster community cohesion.”
Through the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, Chowdhry inserted himself between Ilford’s large Asian community of mainly Muslims and the local police, who as well as solving street crime were interested in countering any terror threat.
Chowdhry was a director of the family’s struggling security business, which has existed under various guises as AA Security or AA Securities and more recently he runs Jewel Security Limited.
Shortly after winning the Peace award, he set up the British Pakistani Christian Association Limited with his wife Juliet. The company dissolved in 2014 and has been superseded by British Pakistani Christians Limited.
The BPCA exists thanks to public donations, which are solicited through the website, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds going through the company’s HSBC bank account.
The money is said to be for helping Christians, mainly in Pakistan, for general poverty relief, the promotion of religious harmony and equality and also for protecting “vulnerable Christian girls from abduction and rape.”
It was this work that caught the government’s eye in 2014, when Wilson and Juliet Chowdhry were invited to an Easter reception at Downing Street to tell prime minister David Cameron about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan.
Chowdhry was excised by the use of blasphemy laws and highlighted the infamous case of Asia Bibi, who was kept on death row for eight years, where she alleged torture.
Bibi was freed in 2018. In October that year, Lara Hall made it back to south Australia after her own ordeal in Pakistan.
The law graduate was in “a bad state” but contacted Chowdhry offering to work on the Bibi case as a BPCA volunteer. Helping others she felt would help her own recovery.
Chowdhry was supportive and they discussed the possibility of establishing a branch of the charity in Australia. The BPCA chairman flew to Australia in late November 2018 to participate in a rally in Sydney to support Asia Bibi, which Lara had organised.
She also set up meetings with church leaders and Australian foreign office officials. Chowdhry had put his name to ‘Lara’s Amendment’ - a piece of draft legislation to curb internet grooming of vulnerable woman, improve Australian consular services and establish a hotline for those needing a safe exit from Pakistan.
A meeting with prime minister Scott Morrison, a religious right-winger, was cancelled at the last minute, Lara recalls.
Nothing sexual happened between the Christian charity boss and his volunteer on that first visit to Australia. But on his return to Essex, Chowdhry did all he could to fan a spark into a flame.
A Current Affair
Over Christmas 2018, Chowdhry was “working on a report about Apostasy hatred” for a Home Office inquiry into Islamophobia.
Apostasy is the renunciation of religious beliefs and principles, which in one sense is how Chowdhry was now behaving by making sexual advances towards a vulnerable volunteer he was championing as a victim of sexual abuse in Pakistan.
Chowdhry had developed a secret text code for when it was not safe to speak to Lara. If he texted the number 4 it meant his wife or children were around. If she received a text saying ‘abetz’ then the coast was clear for sexting.
“We began sending intimate pics, “ Lara told The Upsetter. “He would masturbate on camera to me. He would ask me for dirty pictures or videos. This is when he planned the second trip to Australia.”
Asked for his response, Chowdhry volunteered that he was a 28-year-old virgin when he married in 2003, adding:
“Ms Hall and I became romantically linked over the phone. There was a natural connection because we were both so passionate about helping in Pakistan. I told her about my marriage troubles which arose mainly because of the amount of time and effort I was putting into the charity.
We agreed to be good friends because we realised we both understood each other. It was great to have someone close to talk with constantly but inevitably the connection grew stronger.
At the time my wife was talking about leaving me when my eldest daughter turned 18. She was fed up of my commitment to the charity. I told Lara that if she was still around when that happened she could fill the gap.
Lara changed from here on. She starting playing the role of a wife and I ran with it but all through our conversations I made it clear we would not have sex until and only if my wife left.
Lara did start sexting and I did tell her to stop initially but then accepted it for a while. I eventually got her to stop. This was a moral failure.”
Chowdhry said he agreed to go to Australia for a second time in early February 2019 in part because Lara was nervous about doing a TV interview for Channel 9 News concerning her experience in Pakistan.
“Meeting Lara was exciting but never the priority … This was a work trip with opportunity to catch up with Lara, but she always knew we were to be good friends and perhaps more if Juliet left.
There was no intention to have sex and early discussion meant the hotel rooms were to be separate but she then said she could not afford it because her cheque had not arrived. I was a little uncomfortable with this but the room was large with two beds and we agreed we could hug. This was also a moral failure.”
Chowdhry’s flight to Melbourne was paid from charity funds but strangely he allowed Lara to pay for the hotel room “using money she had secured from a magazine interested in her Pakistan story,” he said.
What happened in the hotel room over the next nine days is the subject of major dispute and criminal allegations.
Lara claims loving consensual sex soon turned into violent deep throating to the point of unconsciousness and physical injury. She would wake up with his penis in her mouth and the ordeal begin again.
Chowdhry says Lara drugged and raped him on the day he arrived from London. He said:
“When I went upstairs she arrived later with a glass of wine for me. We sat, talked, she hugged me and then tried to kiss but I did not want to. I was having second thoughts and felt guilty.
Lara then attempted to pull down my joggers. I said no three or four times and then passed out as she was taking off my joggers. I woke up some time later and she was giving me oral sex. I was in a haze.
We argued about this, about her comments and other stuff and I packed up my stuff to leave. She would not let me leave, saying she loved me, at one point pushing me then grabbing a knife and standing by the door. She then said ‘Go then but you’ll regret it.’”
Chowdhry explained that he did not report Lara because he believed she was plotting to “blackmail” him with a false rape accusation.
“I believe I had been drugged and woken up with her giving me oral sex. I was now compromised. I had seen what Lara had done to the other man in Pakistan but my biggest fear was my wife finding out – I did not want to lose her realising the treasure that I had.
I realised being an Asian man makes you a lesser citizen and that it is easy to accuse an Asian man of rape when you are a white woman as so many people instantly believe it.
I just caved in and had to pretend to want to be with Lara, but I did not want to spend another minute in her company. I don’t know why I caved in but I was just shattered, any man faced with a rape allegation probably feels the same – I literally thought I was going to die.”
In rebutting these claims, Lara has produced WhatsApp messages from ‘Wilson’ where he begs to be allowed to stay in the hotel room.
A witness who Chowdhry named to The Upsetter as someone who could corroborate his account of rape and blackmail “emphatically” denied it.
The witness, who asked not to be named in this article, said of the hotel room incident:
“I witnessed Wilson’s violent aggressive nature one night when they were both staying in Melbourne. I needed to calm Wilson down over the phone and had high level concerns for Lara’s physical and mental safety.”
Chowdhry confirms that after the hotel incident he and Lara nevertheless spent two days filming with Channel 9’s weekly topical news programme, appropriately titled ‘A Current Affair.’
The charity boss appeared on the show not only in support of his alleged rapist but also of her claims to have been raped in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the WhatsApp messages reveal that ‘Wilson’ often expressed misogynistic views about women and oral sex.
“It became very clear he is a sex addict capable of masturbating nine times a day or more. He was also very addicted to pornography and very violent pornography. The more violent the better. He seemed to like to play with power dynamics in the sexual context and he said he found that a huge turn on.
In any event, he subjected me to hours long ordeals of deep throat, and I would be passing in and out of consciousness. I remember things going very black at times and crying because it was really awful.”
Lara claims that during one hotel room sex session she hurt her back and had to be taken hospital where she lied to the nurse that it was a “rough sex” incident. Chowdhry denies this and claims Lara slipped while jumping on the bed.
The sexual relationship with Chowdhry was not all abusive, she explained:
“I want to point out that I did consent to giving him normal blow jobs. There were loving and sexual encounters. We also had normal penetrative sex, which I consented to.”
Chowdhry told The Upsetter he refused to go downtown while they were down under because he didn’t want to encourage Lara sexually. He said:
“While in Australia I told her I was not attracted to women’s vagina to keep her away … I categorically deny it, we never had coitus. I kept telling her I was ‘allergic to vaginal sex’”
However, Chowdhry doesn’t deny that he discussed having children with Lara.
“I don’t remember it. These would be conversations Ms Hall triggered. I know she was desperate to have a baby. I believe she felt that would make her more solid with me. I was not interested in more children or a family. I am not the type of person to meet someone and suddenly want children. I have three daughters and don’t really need more. It would have been hard for Lara to have children with me without any coitus.”
The charity boss also doesn’t deny that he continued to allow Lara to go down on him. He said:
“If I am honest I remember so little of my time with Lara there would have been occasions she would give me oral sex – but I hated it.
It took really long because I did not want to climax as she was catching the sperm and inserting it in her vagina to get pregnant. I cannot tell you how dark a memory this is for me.
I was blackmailed into being her boyfriend as she would threaten to call my wife or other people if I left her … I was actually terrified and just waiting so I could get back home and try and make her hate me or hate the distance.”
Safely back in the UK and the heart of his family and faith, Chowdhry did not break all ties with the woman he claimed had raped him.
Instead, WhatsApp messages on Lara’s phone between February and April 2019 show ‘Wilson’ doing what she calls “love bombing” and “future faking”.
Messages like these:
And this one reminding Lara of the secret code to avoid being caught:
Then there’s this Shakespearean exchange:
Lara was in love with Chowdhry and saw a future together. Her reciprocal love-bombing would sometimes be met with less romantic replies from ‘Wilson’.
Then there was this example of self love:
Sometimes, ‘Wilson’ would even multitask mixing self pleasure with charity business:
He would also try to make Lara jealous by texting an account of sex with his wife. On another occasion he severely belittled Lara by insisting she send him pictures of her twin.
These WhatsApp messages arguably give an accurate insight into the power dynamic between the Christian charity boss and his volunteer lover:
Lara’s sister, who asked not to be named, was also a BPCA volunteer. She gave The Upsetter this recollection of working with Chowdhry in Australia.
“I found him charismatic, attention-seeking and abusive. He placed pressure on everyone around us even our hosts. The ‘delightful’ persona masks a darker reality. One minute he is jovial and happy, the next he is furious and raging away and it’s everyone else’s fault. I witnessed his temper on many occasions. He made me cry I believe it was over the opening of a bank account.
I do not believe my sister would have ever been party to this highly exploitative relationship if she was not so vulnerable and I believe that he took advantage of the power imbalance to exploit her.
He made some sexy remarks to me, comments about my looks and appearance and other comments that aren't acceptable in my opinion. Given his position this made me uncomfortable. I was very disturbed when he wanted explicit pictures of me. It is my view that Wilson is very abusive, emotionally, psychologically and sexually.”
Chowdhry admits asking for saucy images of Lara’s sister. The 47-year-old charity boss said:
“Ms Hall made disparaging remarks about how my brother was better looking than me and something more personal that I cannot share for his sake. I in my anger said something equally vitriolic about her sister.
It was a tit for tat situation that was investigated by Essex Police. I said many bad things to Ms Hall. I believed she had a severe infatuation and wanted to extricate myself from her … I was not violent with her. I would not have had the audacity, have no history of violence and was actually scared of her … I had to pretend to be in a relationship until I got to the UK, then I tried to make her hate me.”
Chowdhry also claims that the demand for images of Lara’s twin was in response to “a fake rape video” the sisters had allegedly made to cover up that Lara had raped him.
He feared that once in possession of the video, the racist local police would believe a white woman over an Asian man. Consequently, the Christian charity boss said he was forced to maintain the pretence of desiring Lara and an erection for the duration of his trip down under.
Asked for evidence of this “fake video”, Chowdhry immediately backtracked and said it was not a video but a call between the twins that he had overheard.
Juliet was in her mid-twenties when she married Wilson Chowdhry in 2003 and joined the family security business. Within a year the couple had their first daughter.
Chowdhry now excuses his affair with Lara on the grounds that his wife was threatening to leave him when their first born turned 18. Juliet apparently was annoyed at his excessive commitment to Christian charitable work.
Juliet appears to have discovered the affair in April 2019, when Lara called Chowdhry. Instead, the two women spoke and Lara claims Juliet told her she was not her husband’s first dalliance with a volunteer.
Juliet denies this but not that she suspected her husband of infidelity. She refuses to say if these suspicions were discussed with other trustees but said the revelation about her husband’s affair sent her into a depression that meant not talking to anyone until May.
Asked by The Upsetter about the above post seen by Lara, Juliet Chowdhry said:
“I did not send her this message. Ms Hall made a false allegation, the matter was investigated by Essex Police who deduced the messages were forged and dropped their investigation after less than 20mins of an interview.”
Asked for evidence of this, Juliet provided a fragment of an email exchange with Essex police simply saying there would be no further action against her.
However painful the discovery of her husband’s affair was for Juliet Chowdhry, the BPCA had a problem because Lara was now raising it as a safeguarding issue.
There was no trustee with knowledge of safeguarding who could independently examine Lara’s allegations and support her during the process.
The trustees went into a private huddle and two things emerged: Lara was reimbursed the cost of the Melbourne hotel where the alleged rape took place. And Wilson Chowdhry quietly resigned.
A statement followed saying nothing more than the BPCA founder and chairman had stepped down for “personal reasons”.
Juliet filled her husband’s shoes as lead trustee at the BPCA. But Lara felt Wilson Chowdhry’s resignation was fake and he was still operating behind the scenes.
She claimed a BPCA friend of Chowdhry had threatened her with private investigators trawling over her past if she didn’t stop making trouble and talking to the media.
It was in this context that she was told of the existence of a recent conversation Chowdhry had secretly recorded where he told Lara it was over and he was staying with Juliet.
The recording captured a desperate Lara unwilling to accept what she was hearing. She came across as a woman convinced they had a future together, that Chowdhry’s previous WhatsApp messages wanting more than just “sucks” but marriage and children were genuine.
Messages like these:
The tape recording was helpful to Chowdhry and the BPCA. Lara came across as the unhinged lover threatening revenge.
In context and considered with her own recordings and texts showing the different faces of Chowdhry - the love bomber, the horny Christian and the irate charity boss - this new tape recording didn’t add up to much.
Out of context, however, it was damaging. Lara was so desperate to keep her man she even offered him the very thing she hated, that she said had hurt and humiliated her - deep throat oral sex.
Chowdhry lent heavily on the recording in his email exchanges with The Upsetter but refused to disclose a copy. It was Lara who provided the tape recording along with this explanation:
“I broke because he made me break and then used that to further weaponise it against me. I was vulnerable and truly destroyed by him at this point. I was all over the show and confused. I wasn't mad I was abused - there is a very distinct difference!
It also makes them look really bad that they were swarming around me like little vultures instead of getting me help when I was so clearly unwell. It took him ages and ages to get me to that point. He was thrilled and happy when I broke. It's vile.
Perhaps they didn't want to show you this because of how staged it was and what a stitch up it was to get the girl you've just broken at her worst and she's trauma bonded to you and she finally breaks.
Yes I broke. I said some things I regret. I was heavily trauma bonded to him. My Pakistan "hero" had become my "villain." The audio elucidates how deeply unwell I was and instead of getting me help he was busy recording me to try to entrap me and obfuscate the consequences of his actions.”
Meanwhile, Chowdhry and others connected with the BPCA were starting to suggest for the first time that Lara’s Pakistan ordeal had been made up. She was told they were preparing an article for the charity website with evidence Lara’s ordeal was at best embellished.
Asked why the BPCA originally supported Lara’s ordeal without any due diligence, Chowdhry said he had been “duped” along with the media.
Separately, a male BPCA supporter took to trolling Lara in defence of the fallen charity boss. The text threatened fire and brimstone.
During the swirl of serious safeguarding concerns surrounding his affair and resignation, Chowdhry convened a panel discussion with the police on … victim impact.
By then, Lara had gone to a UK safeguarding body for help. Thirty-One Eight were sufficiently concerned to make a complaint on her behalf in June 2019 to the Charity Commission, the official regulator in England and Wales.
Weeks later, Lara gave a lengthy statement to the Australian police. She recounted how she met Chowdhry, how the flirting turned to phone sex and the second trip to Australia in February 2019 was largely organised for them to get more intimate.
Lara described Chowdhry admitting his porn addiction derived from the lack of sex in an unhappy marriage.
She explained how he was only turned on by oral sex that took her to “the point of asphyxiation”. The charity boss, she said, had considered the risks to the “Chowdhry brand” if she died during deep throating but carried on.
She told Chowdhry she didn’t like the extreme oral sex. She said she was willing to give regular blow jobs but alleged that Chowdhry nevertheless forcibly deep throated her in and out of consciousness for an hour. This occurred on six further occasions during their ten day hotel stay in February 2019, she claimed.
Her July 2019 police statement also named friends and her sister who she had confided in.
One friend confirmed to The Upsetter the contents of a WhatsApp exchange on 19 April 2019 where Lara texted that Chowdhry had “face fucked me to unconsciousness many times.”
Lara also alleged to the police that Chowdhry exploited her Harm OCD to get oral sex as “punishment” for some slight he claimed she had caused him.
She described herself as a woman aware she was not in a “normal relationship” but who forgave “behaviours I knew were wrong” because she was “so in love” and “desperate to keep [Wilson] and please him”.
In the police statement, Lara did not avoid dealing with Chowdhry’s secretly recorded call to say goodbye. She suspected he would refer to the damaging recording and explained to the police that at the time her mental health had deteriorated and she was popping pills to kill emotional pain.
The Australian police followed up some leads and spoke unofficially by phone to Chowdhry. He was never arrested, but volunteered the tape recording of Lara as part of his denial to all her allegations. It was then that he counter alleged for the first time that Lara had drugged and raped him.
Essex police were also investigating aspects of Lara’s complaint of sexual assault. There was some ping pong between the two police forces but no joined up investigation.
In the end, no charges were brought against any party here or in Australia.
“I am an imperfect victim because he was married, because I am not virginal, because of my sexual history and the fact that this is not the first time I’ve been assaulted, because I snapped back at him and was erratic and deeply emotional.”
On 31 March 2020, Dame Margaret Hodge MP wrote to Helen Stephenson, the head the Charity Commission, criticising the regulator’s slow investigation of Lara’s complaint, now nine months old.
Hodge had labelled the Charity Commission “not fit for purpose” in 2013 and was now wanting to know why the regulator was not interviewing Lara and other witnesses alleging safeguarding problems in BPCA’s overseas operation.
The veteran Labour MP for Barking wrote:
“Lara’s case calls into question both the regulatory capability of the Commission and its capacity to safeguard those that turn to the organisation in a time of need.
According to Lara, your caseworkers have failed to thoroughly investigate her case, have been completely inaccessible to her, and have provided her with little to no support. These are very serious allegations and, if true, would constitute a complete dereliction of duty from the Charity Commission.”
There was also pressure coming from Tory MP Pauline Latham OBE in support of Lara.
The following month, April 2020, the regulator changed its stance and interviewed Lara.
The Charity Commission gave the BPCA further time to close down or put its house in order, but eventually lost patience with Juliet Chowdhry and the other trustees, who failed to implement an action plan set out in April 2020.
The regulator issued the BPCA with an “Official Warning” in February 2021 that said:
“The trustees have failed to implement proper controls regarding their work overseas and in particular safeguarding policies to ensure the protection of vulnerable beneficiaries.
The trustees have failed to act in the best interests of the charity in making balanced and adequately informed decisions and avoiding and managing conflicts of interest.”
Charitable organisations in Pakistan and Thailand were also concerned. Some pointed to safeguarding issues.
Wilson Chowdhry denies any sexual misconduct with other women he met through his charity work. He said: “I was apparently very busy.”
Meanwhile, an organisation in Pakistan, which asked to remain anonymous because of the “volatile” environment it operates in, wrote to the Charity Commission in January 2022.
The charitable organisation was concerned for three orphan children they had been looking after since their Christian parents were burnt to death by a village mob for alleged blasphemy in 2014.
The letter to the UK regulator alleged that Wilson Chowdhry and the BPCA were making false or exaggerated claims of financial support for the orphans, had ignored requests to desist and most recently had published information on the charity website which threatened their safety.
The letter said:
“This is totally unacceptable behaviour in the name of charity. The financial irregularities are enough but now they have placed [the orphans] in jeopardy. You must act now.”
A source at the Pakistani organisation said the Charity Commission never responded to its letter.
A spokesperson for the regulator said it can only refer those making allegations of criminality to the police.
However, this May, the Charity Commission published a highly critical final report of its findings about the BPCA, which said:
“The regulator opened a case into the charity in June 2019 after concerns were raised about a safeguarding incident linked to the charity overseas. The Commission investigated the trustees’ response to the incident and found failures in its immediate handling as well as a general lack of adequate safeguarding policies and procedures.
The regulator also identified wider governance concerns, including a lack of robust financial controls in relation to its overseas operations and confusion amongst the trustees about the aims and activities of the charity.”
The BPCA’s trustees alongside Juliet Chowdhry are Joel Kyari and Dorah Mayah, two former business associates of Wilson Chowdhry.
They are not going to resign and did not respond when asked why there was no mention of the Charity Commission’s damning findings on the BPCA website, which is a key route for public donations.
The charity received almost £93,000 according to its latest accounts, but has overspent by £50,000. It also received a £4500 government grant.
Juliet Chowdhry told The Upsetter:
“I assure you that there was no embezzlement or we would be talking with the police and not yourself. We have had an accountant hired by Charity Commission [to] inspect our records and the main issue was managing finance in countries of risk like Pakistan.
Often our beneficiaries are quite illiterate and very poor so they did not have bank accounts, or were refugees in Thailand and could not legally open bank accounts.
We have had to learn to be more inventive in how we distribute funds so that donations are more traceable.”
She confirmed that her husband still lives with her and their daughters. The charity phone number is their home phone and the charity operates from a building he owns.
Wilson Chowdhry told The Upsetter he had approached his local Tory MP, Dame Eleanor Laing, to complain about the intervention of Dame Margaret Hodge and Pauline Latham with the Charity Commission.
Chowdhry is proud of his own cross party political connections and likes to display the invitations he received from prime ministers David Cameron and his predecessor Gordon Brown, who gave him a community crime fighter award.
Chowdhry also has a long association with the former Lib Dem peer Lord David Alton over the Asia Bibi case and other issues.
The Essex boy has political ambitions of his own. He unsuccessfully represented the Green party in Redbridge in 2010 but was later suspended for homophobic comments.
In 2018, Chowdhry changed his spots and stood as a conservative candidate. He lost, but sources in Chigwell, where he now lives, say he is hovering around the parish council there.
Days after publication of the Charity Commission report on 19 May, The Upsetter emailed the BPCA looking to interview trustee Juliet Chowdhry.
A call was also made to a mobile number associated with Wilson Chowdhry. A young woman answered and claimed it was the wrong number. Asked if Juliet Chowdhry was there, she said she was out and identified herself as the couple’s daughter, Hannah Chowdhry.
Wilson and Juliet Chowdhry and the BPCA immediately went on the offensive alleging “harassment” of their oldest daughter, who is 18, a BPCA volunteer and regular on the charity’s website.
Threats followed to involve the police and the council in what the BPCA was now calling a “safeguarding matter” - beyond irony given the circumstances surrounding Wilson Chowdhry’s resignation and the Charity Commission’s findings about the very same trustees.
The Upsetter emailed back describing the BPCA’s claim as “a rather sordid and transparent attempt” by the Chowdhrys “to frustrate legitimate questioning from a journalist.”
That was one month ago. Officers, if you are coming, come informed and come correct.
And so it goes.
Coming soon: A two part special on corruption and a landmark racist murder.