A former special forces soldier, who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds with his Aberdeen-based charity, claims he has been “vindicated” by a watchdog after complaints about his expenses.
Dean Stott, then 41, became the fastest man to cycle the length of the Pan American Highway in 2018 in aid of mental health causes.
Along the way, the ex Special Boat Service trooper – whose profile was raised through his friendship with Prince Harry – also became the quickest to cycle the 6,000-mile length of South America.
‘Horrendous’ strain for Aberdeen family behind million-pound fundraiser
Now cleared of “deliberate” wrongdoing, his wife Alana has spoken out about the “horrendous pressure” placed on their Peterculter-based family during the year-long investigation.
Complaints emerged after a fall out with Mr Stott’s crew, leading to accusations he had toted up £400,000 in expenses during the bike ride from Argentina to Alaska.
They also alleged he had been cutting corners to ensure he made it back home in time for the wedding of the prince – who he met in 2007 during military training – and Meghan Markle.
Having taken more than a year to look into the complaints, OSCR identified “weaknesses in the governance and stewardship of charity’s assets”, though added they “do not appear to have been deliberate”.
The Stotts have always maintained all money raised would go to charity, and that Mr Stott’s cycling would be paid for through sponsorship.
PAH (Scotland) has since been renamed Breaking Chains Global.
Regulator identified ‘weaknesses’ at charity
Investigators said their probe was necessary in order to “protect public trust and confidence in charities” – especially because Mr Stott’s exploits had attracted “significant media attention due to links to high profile individuals and substantial money raised”.
The regulator’s report said trustees needed to “better understand”:
- the need for strong, well documented, and transparent decision making
- the need for robust planning of significant events
- the need for exercising strong financial management
- the need to consider the reputation of the charity, particularly where there are links to high profile individuals and events.
Having donated £500,000 to princes Harry and William’s Heads Together mental health charity, the newly rebranded Breaking Chains has taken on fundraising to end human trafficking – a particular interest of Mrs Stott, who highlighted victims’ plight when she was crowned Mrs Aberdeen.
‘Hate campaign’ hit Peterculter family due to royal links
But, speaking to press accountability campaigners Hacked Off, she also highlighted the suffering her family endured.
The mother-of-two said: “The pressure was horrendous and my mental health suffered.
“An eating disorder from the past resurfaced, I couldn’t sleep and I was being treated for depression.
“Worse still, Dean and I argued on a regular basis. We were both in so much pain and we didn’t know how to resolve it.
“Everything depended on the OSCR. We waited 18 months.
“Not one allegation of financial misconduct was upheld and we were actually praised for raising so much money as a new charity.
“The only qualification in the verdict was that we were given new management guidelines to help us in the future.”
Mr Stott refused to comment for The Press And Journal and Evening Express, instead directing us to Mrs Stott’s article.