Book giant HarperCollins’ rates link to controversial Scots charity Scotia Aid revealed

Scandal-hit charity Scotia Aid “saved” a multi-national book giant hundreds of thousands of pounds in rates payments to a Scottish council, it emerged today.

HarperCollins avoided paying up to £1.5m thanks to a loophole in the law that allowed firms to save money on business rates if their buildings were used for “charitable purposes”.

However, the Sunday Post can today reveal that, when the company leased its Bishopbriggs site to Scotia Aid to store supplies for Africa, the organisation was not registered as a charity.

In fact, Scotia Aid – which received a £115,000 donation from HarperCollins around the same time – had “borrowed” the charity number of another body.

The Sunday Post previously exposed Scotia Aid for paying its trustees huge salaries while donating just 13p in the pound to good causes.

We also revealed how it was being investigated across the country for leasing other buildings – saving their owners a fortune – while failing to actually place any aid in any of the buildings involved.

Former boss Dan Houston was a pupil at a Coatbridge school run by missionaries. The connection made him aware of Lanarkshire Global Education Centre, also known as the Conforti Institute.

According to charity sources, he convinced the body to let Scotia Aid “borrow” its details.

Father Tom Welsh, of the Conforti Institute, said it had “never at any time been in ‘partnership’ with Scotia Aid”.

He said: “After having taken professional advice and only for the benefit of our charitable purposes in Sierra Leone, we allowed use of our charity number but we must stress that it was only for a very short and limited period.

“Scotia Aid had no permission to use the charity number in the manner and to the extent that has now become apparent.

“We would emphasize we have been in communication with OSCR in relation to these matters.”

• Full story at the Sunday Post.

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