Croydon North MP Steve Reed will use this afternoon’s adjournment debate in the House of Commons about the controversial cult-like SPAC Nation to demand to know “how young people at risk right now will be protected, how traumatised victims will be supported, and what will be done to stop this organisation destroying any more lives”.
SPAC Nation – widely known as “the church of bling” because of the high-roller lifestyles enjoyed by its leading figures – has been subject to fraud and charity investigations for months, though no arrests have been made.
Reed provided the Metropolitan Police with a dossier of at least 12 cases of abuse, including very serious allegations of sexual abuse against minors, and the activities of SPAC Nation’s “pastors” have been extensively covered by BBC Panorama, the Huffington Post, Sunday Times and by Inside Croydon.
Today’s adjournment debate, while expected to see further allegations made against SPAC Nation, is also likely to ratchet up the pressure on the police, and also SPAC’s many friends among Croydon Conservatives.
Leading Croydon Tories, including “Baron” Barwell, the sometime MP for Croydon Central, Tim Pollard, the leader of Croydon Tories, and Mario Creatura, the failed parliamentary candidate in last month’s General Election, have all held meetings and posed for photo ops with SPAC Nation leaders, including the church’s founder, property investor Tobi Adegboyega.
Barwell, when Theresa May’s chief of staff, even invited Adeboyega and other church leaders, into No10 Downing Street for tea.
In November, Jayde Edwards, aged 20, a SPAC pastor, was hand-picked by Croydon Tories – including, it is understood, Pollard and Creatura – to be the party’s candidate in the Fairfield council by-election. Her campaigning saw hundreds of church members turning out to leaflet and canvass in the town centre ward. Until, that is, the church’s controversial approach to fund-raising was exposed.
SPAC’s activities have left some senior Croydon Tories feeling very uncomfortable about their party’s relationship with the organisation.
“Inevitably the local Conservative leadership will continue to ignore the concerns that have been raised, and try to portray this as nothing more than political point-scoring, rather than the potentially very serious issue it is,” a senior member of the Croydon Conservatives told Inside Croydon today.
“I hope that all three of Croydon’s MPs attend today’s debate and encourage everyone involved, including the police and banks, to cooperate fully so that answers are known quickly and support can be provided to vulnerable young people where needed.”
Such hopes may be forlorn, if last night’s “London Speaks” event at Croydon’s Jury’s Inn for Rory Stewart is anything to judge by.
Stewart is the former Conservative MP who is running for election as London Mayor as an independent. Renowned as an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, last night’s event showed that he has a better grasp of matters in Baghdad than in south London.
Either that, or he never bothered watching Panorama, as he was joined on stage in Croydon by Daniel Ogoloma, who served as SPAC’s spokesman when the various controversies and allegations broke in November.
It was a crass political misjudgement by Stewart, whose campaign could be further damaged by association with SPAC following today’s adjournment debate in parliament.
MP Reed told Inside Croydon this morning, “I intend to raise concerns about how a cult masquerading as a church has been allowed to target and abuse hundreds of vulnerable young people right across London under the noses of police and politicians.
“I want to know how young people at risk right now will be protected, how traumatised victims will be supported, and what will be done to stop this organisation destroying any more lives.”
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