Tonbridge travel agent arrested over ‘theft’ from veterans

BACK IN THE SADDLE: The Pilgrim Bandits were able to go ahead with their tour after diverting funds from another project

Tonbridge travel agent arrested over ‘theft’ from veterans

9th January 2019

A TRAVEL company has been accused of stealing thousands of pounds from a charity helping injured veterans.

Black Tip Travel Ltd, which has been seeking insolvency advice, is alleged to have taken money set aside for flights to New Zealand paid by the charity Pilgrim Bandits to stage a bike ride.

A group of 22 veterans included Britain’s most injured soldier, Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, a double amputee still serving with the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.

They were due to fly out in October, but were told two days before their departure date that the tickets had not been booked.

Kent Police said: “A 34-year-old man from Tonbridge was arrested on suspicion of theft and has been released pending further inquiries.”

The company, run by Dale Whitney, has denied any wrongdoing and blames the problems on a ‘simple error’ and ‘cash flow issues’.

In September Black Tip Travel lost its membership of Advantage Travel Partnership and ABTA [Association of British Travel Agents].

It continued to trade but posted a statement on its websites last month saying the company is no longer taking any bookings.

It said it was ‘going through some issues’, and blamed booking errors causing ‘heavy losses’.

It added: “We are currently getting insolvency advice so we can work through these problems.”

Action Fraud has received complaints from a number of customers and passed evidence on to the National Fraud Investigation Bureau.

Clients said they had paid thousands of pounds for long-haul flights but found that airlines and operators had no record of them.

Black Tip, which was founded in June 2017, specialises in business class flights, corporate and luxury travel.

Barry Gooch, chairman of Prevention of Fraud in Travel, said: “We are aware of the allegations against Black Tip Travel and have been working with all the relevant parties to make sure anything that appears untoward is investigated.”

The Pilgrim Bandits went ahead with the venture using funds set aside for another trip.

The veterans rode more than 1,500 miles down North and South Islands on modified tandems.

The charity was established by a small group of Special Forces veterans who wanted to use their unique training and experience to help and inspire injured personnel to live life to the full.

For more information, visit pilgrimbandits.org

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