Captain Tom ‘charity’ autobiography publisher refuses to say if funds paid to his foundation from sales

·7-min read

A major publisher behind Captain Sir Tom Moore’s autobiography, said to have been written in “support” of a foundation set up in his name, has refused to disclose whether it has paid any money to the charity from sales of the book.

Only a month after the late veteran’s multimillion-pound fundraising effort during the first Covid lockdown the Captain Tom Foundation announced the publication of his £20 autobiography and a £12.99 children’s picture book to “support his newly formed charity”.

The autobiography of the veteran – who raised nearly £39m (including tax rebates) for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden – became a Sunday Times No 1 bestseller.

However, more than two years later, Penguin Random House (PRH) – one of the world’s largest book publishers – would not reveal whether it had paid any funds to the charity from the sale of the publications when asked by The Independent. Instead, it cited “confidential details pertaining to contracts, which of course legally we are not at liberty to disclose”. The publisher said it had “not acted in any way that is in breach of charity legislation”.

It comes after the Charity Commission last month launched a statutory inquiry into the Captain Tom Foundation, warning that Club Nook Ltd – a company run by the veteran’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband, Colin – “may have generated significant profit” from trademarking the veteran’s name.

The watchdog opened a regulatory compliance case into the charity in March 2021 but said it had “escalated its engagement due to newly identified concerns about arrangements between the charity and a company linked to the Ingram-Moore family, as well as ongoing concerns about the trustees’ decision making and the charity’s governance”. Club Nook Ltd’s accounts, covering its first year from 24 April 2020 to 30 April 2021, say its profit and loss reserves stood at £484,894.

In recent months, the Captain Tom Foundation has been beset by controversy. In February, The Independent reported how it had been told that part of the Charity Commission’s compliance case related to a request from the foundation to appoint Hannah Ingram-Moore as chief executive on a six-figure salary, with the watchdog blocking the appointment last summer.

The Captain Tom Foundation tried to appoint Hannah Ingram-Moore (pictured) as CEO on a six-figure salary, but the Charity Commission blocked the move (PA)
The Captain Tom Foundation tried to appoint Hannah Ingram-Moore (pictured) as CEO on a six-figure salary, but the Charity Commission blocked the move (PA)

In another development, The Independent revealed in May that gin sold to raise money for the foundation was pulled from sale after an apparent breach of charity law.

In May 2020, The Sun reported that Captain Tom Moore had struck a book deal worth up to £1.5m, writing: “His PR agents are understood to have agreed a deal with publisher Michael Joseph, part of the Penguin Random House group.”

In the same month, The Bookseller reported: “Captain Tom Moore… is publishing his memoirs with Michael Joseph and a children’s book with Puffin, having struck a deal with Penguin Random House.” The piece quoted Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, saying: “We’ve leveraged each other’s strengths to bring the legacy of the Captain Tom Foundation – to help people to help others, across generations – to readers of all ages.”

A tweet on 14 May 2020 from the Captain Tom Moore account, sharing a video of the veteran, said: “’I am so looking forward to sharing my autobiography with you... I’d better get writing!’  The book will support the launch of the Captain Tom Foundation... more news on that to come!  Thanks @PenguinUKBooks for the film.” The Captain Tom Foundation website features a news item, published in the same month, about how two books in his name, an autobiography and a children’s picture book, “will support his newly formed charity – The Captain Tom Foundation”.

The prologue of the fundraiser’s autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day, which was published in hardback in September 2020, suggests the book is raising funds for the Captain Tom Foundation. It states: “Astonishingly at my age, with the offer to write this memoir I have also been given the chance to raise even more money for the charitable foundation now established in my name.”

PRH has published four Captain Tom books. His autobiography and the picture book, One Hundred Steps: The Story of Captain Sir Tom Moore, were first published in 2020. Captain Tom’s Life Lessons and One Hundred Reasons to Hope: true stories of everyday heroes were both released last year.

Copies in both hardback and paperback of One Hundred Reasons to Hope – the introduction to which is written by Hannah Ingram-Moore – say that the text copyright is held by “Club Nook Limited, 2021”.

A paperback version of One Hundred Steps lists the text copyright as “Tom Moore, 2020” and a paperback copy of Tomorrow Will be a Good Day lists the copyright as “Captain Sir Tom Moore, 2020”. The kindle version of Captain Tom’s Life Lessons lists the copyright as “Captain Sir Tom Moore, 2021”.

Legislation says that the actual amount going to charity from a commercial partnership must be specified. In the case of the £14.99 One Hundred Reasons to Hope book, a declaration is made on Penguin’s website specifying how much money is going to the Captain Tom Foundation from the sale of the books. Penguin’s website says: “Inspired by, and with the blessing of, one man and his walking frame, a £1 donation will be made to the Captain Tom Foundation for all hardback print sales in the UK and Ireland.”

However, there is no such declaration on Penguin’s website on the web pages featuring each of the other three Captain Sir Tom Moore books. For One Hundred Steps, the publisher’s website says the book has been “published in support of the creation of the Captain Tom Foundation”, but no further information is provided about whether a specific donation is being provided to the charity and, if so, how much it is.

Shivaji Shiva, a charities partner at law firm VWV, said: “The fact that one of the books is sold on the basis that ‘a £1 donation will be made to the Captain Tom Foundation for all hardback print sales in the UK and Ireland’ prompts questions including: why was there not a similar statement in relation to the other three Captain Tom books?

“In relation to the other three books, was a donation made to the foundation from the proceeds of sale? If so, what was the ‘notifiable amount’ and how was it made known to potential purchasers?”

He added: “Members of the public are likely to ask how it is that these questions remain unanswered given the attention focused on the foundation in recent months.”

Captain Sir Tom Moore was knighted by the Queen for his fundraising efforts (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Archive)
Captain Sir Tom Moore was knighted by the Queen for his fundraising efforts (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Archive)

In response to questions from The Independent, PRH declined to disclose whether or not it had paid funds to the Captain Tom Foundation, or Club Nook Ltd, from the sale of the three books. In reference to The Independent’s questions, a PRH spokesperson said “many of these have been around confidential details pertaining to contracts, which of course legally we are not at liberty to disclose”. They added that “we can categorically assure you that we have not acted in any way that is in breach of charity legislation”.

The Captain Tom Foundation initially declined to comment. However, a spokesperson subsequently said: “The Captain Tom Foundation confirms that it has received donations from Penguin for all of the books badged as providing a £1 charitable donation for each sale.”

The hardback version of One Hundred Reasons to Hope displays such a badge on its cover. However, copies of Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day, One Hundred Steps and Captain Tom’s Life Lessons seen by The Independent do not carry the same badge or specify that a donation will be made to the Captain Tom Foundation from sales. Asked to clarify whether the foundation was saying it had received donations from Penguin from the sales of those three books, the spokesperson said: “We will not be commenting further.”

In a statement, Hannah Ingram-Moore said: “I can confirm that Club Nook has not profited from branded merchandise/memorabilia, that Club Nook has not been paid by the foundation for use of its trademarks and that Club Nook’s revenues have been generated by other activities.”

A spokesman for Hannah and Colin Ingram-Moore did not provide responses to questions about whether Club Nook had received any income from Penguin Random House for the four books, or if either of them had been paid directly, or indirectly, by the publisher in relation to any of the publications.

The Charity Commission did not provide comment in response to questions about the books.

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