Heritage organisations react to Hamish Ogston allegations

English Heritage craft skills

Organisations which were to benefit from funding to support heritage crafts from the Hamish Ogston Foundation have announced plans to sever relationships amidst allegations in The Sunday Times that founder Hamish Ogston has been involved in human trafficking and exploitation of young women.

In a statement on its website, the National Trust, awarded £6.2m from the Foundation in 2022 for a new Heritage Crafts Apprenticeship programme, says: “Given the severity of the allegations published in The Sunday Times, we have suspended our work with the Hamish Ogston Foundation. We have reassured the twelve apprentices already on the apprenticeship programme that they will continue to receive training and professional development opportunities as they complete their apprenticeships and one-year post apprenticeship placements with us."

The Foundation had also committed a donation of £11.2m in 2022 for English Heritage's heritage skills programme, of which £667,000 had already been received. In response to the allegations, English Heritage revealed that it had placed the funds received to date into a "separate bank account where they are clearly identifiable and we are returning them to the Foundation. We are not using any of the funds received from the Foundation to apply against any spend we've incurred to date on our heritage skills programme – those costs are being paid from English Heritage’s own unrestricted funds. Nor will English Heritage draw down on any further funds committed by the Hamish Ogston Foundation.
English Heritage has also filed a serious incident report with the Charity Commission."

It was also keen to stress that it was committed to delivering its heritage skills programme despite the  setback "as it will not only secure countless historic buildings and ensure the survival of many endangered heritage skills but – through the key apprenticeships element – also provide fulfilling careers for young people, now and in the future."

Historic England and the Historic England Foundation revealed that it was also severing ties with the Hamish Ogston Foundation. “We will not be accepting their funds for future work relating to the Heritage Building Skills Programme and will be returning £50,000 which we had received towards research and development for a national expansion of the programme,” a spokesperson said.

Further funds, totalling £700,000, were pledged to the Cathedrals' Workshop Fellowship, which comprises nine Anglican cathedrals, to aid its own heritage skills work. It has responded to the news with the following comment:  "We are aware of the recent Sunday Times investigation into the private life of Hamish Ogston and are deeply concerned by the serious allegations relating to human trafficking and the exploitation of young women. As the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) is a recipient of funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation, the Board of Trustees is taking advice on how to proceed. We have no further comment at this time."

It is understood that other organisations are reviewing relationships with the Foundation.