An organiser of a Black Lives Matter protest used her profile to raise money for charity and then spent it on herself, a judge said as she was jailed for two and a half years. The Telegraph has the story.
Saleem, from Romford, east London, previously pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing her position as director of Changing Your Mindset Ltd, by transferring monies to her personal bank accounts and then spending it between June 2020 and September 2021.
Judge Michael Longman, sentencing at Bristol Crown Court, said Saleem had gained a high public profile from her BLM involvement and she had used it, with the help of others, to raise money to try to support young people in the St Paul’s area of Bristol.
The judge told Saleem this was “a worthwhile cause but that money you then used not for their benefit but for your own, funding a lifestyle for yourself that you could not otherwise have afforded”.
The prosecution said that, in the 15 months to September 2021, there were more than 2,500 payments made from Saleem’s account which included standard living expenses such as general shopping and bills, plus a new iPhone, hair and beauty appointments, clothes stores, Amazon purchases, taxis and takeaways.
The court heard that Saleem appeared to be devoted to the cause and someone who could be trusted and she came into contact with community worker Rebecca Scott who helped her set up the BLM march.
The judge said Saleem then “in gratitude” offered to set up a fundraising page, which went live in 2020, with the money raised being earmarked for projects to help the young in St. Paul’s.
The page was set up around the time of the demonstration in Bristol that ended with a statue of Edward Colston being toppled into the city’s harbour.
A youth organisation called Changing Your Mindset Ltd was set up which “plainly had a charitable purpose”, the judge added.
Saleem became a director, along with others who were already active in the St Paul’s community, but setting up a business account as intended at the point was difficult.
The judge said: “The amount raised exceeded expectations by a significant margin and raised over £32,000.”
Worth reading in full.