At IADA we have been in receipt of a campaign of harassment from a member of the public who is a former applicant. There has been police involvement on two occasions and we apparently have a good case for bringing a libel suit, but we are unsure about this as it would eat a lot of the charity’s resources.
We have put off making this statement as it is not pleasant subject matter, but as it stands we have been afraid to update the charity social media for fear of reprisals from this man, and it is time for this to come to an end.
We have confirmed with the most recent police officer to visit us in person, that it us acceptable for us to make this statement.
James Grant, often known as Jay Grant, is someone who applied to our charity back in 2016. We cannot disclose the specifics of his application, but in checking references we confirmed that he did not actually meet our requirements. However, we offered him an interview anyway, in the hope that we may still be able to help him.
Despite his statements about IADA, Jay himself was the one who rejected our offer of a place with us.
This was his response to the letter that we sent offering him an interview:
Firstly, he claims that we took several months to contact him, and as I pointed out in my reply to him, this is not true, his application form was signed at the end of June, and we contacted him in July to tell him that we had not received a response from one of his references. By the beginning of August, just before he was to send this email, we were offering him a place. That is one month, not several months.
I also explained in my reply to James why he did not, in fact, take his dog through two years of ADUK training in the space of a month, and he did not have an “ADUK badge.” On the off-chance that he actually believed he had obtained one and was not just telling me a bizarre lie, I did forward the conversation to Assistance Dogs UK, although I am unsure if they reached out to Jay as the reply was simply “Thanks for letting us know about this.”
His remark about travelling to Worcester is in regard to us asking him to come to Hampshire for his interview. Jay even had to tick an eligibility box on his application, saying that he was willing to travel to Hamsphire, as we are unlikely to be able to visit most applicants. Despite having ticked this box, he was clearly in denial of it here.
Likewise with the need to travel to Hampshire, he had to confirm while applying that he acknowledge that any charges levied by doctors for us asking them for references, must be paid by the applicant (because if they weren’t, the charity would run out of money very quickly). Despite also agreeing to this in his application, we received a bill from a GP surgery that had actually claimed not to know Jay when we asked them for a reference.
Below is my reply to Jay, in which I rescinded our offer of an interview after his odd claims.
He then sent some somewhat contradictory emails in response to my one reply, including some outright lies.
I replied to the above messages with the following:
Unfortunately he continued to send us further emails with bizarre statements, including photos of his dog sitting in restaurants with captions about how he has “free public access.”
He stopped emailing us, but then moved onto our social media.
After this, he was banned from interacting with the IADA Facebook page. Unfortunately, the Facebook functionality of banning is not very effective, and banned users can still go onto a page and share its posts with their own captions.
I printed out all of his emails and the screenshots of his activity on our Facebook page, and took them in person to the local police station. They confirmed that he was committing a criminal offence, and officers from Hampshire Constabulary contacted James and told him to leave us alone.
We didn’t hear from Jay Grant again until this year, 2018, when he decided to look us up again and start interacting with our page.
Below is a screenshot of the notifications from him on my phone screen.
Although the notifications still showed on my screen, he changed the privacy of the posts themselves after I had read them, and so unfortunately I didn’t get screenshots of those themselves, but I remember what they say.
The first notification at the bottom, is of him sharing an update we made, about how charity activities had slowed due to me being seriously ill. He implied that because we are an “unofficial page,” me being struck by such debilitating symptoms was funny.
Aside from the fact that a disabled person should know better than to laugh at somebody else’s illness getting worse, we are in fact an official Facebook page, and have a verification tick provided by Facebook that is clear to see.
The second notification is from him sharing another of our updates, about how my folding power wheelchair had broken, and so we were unable to visit clients even when we had a volunteer to drive us. Jay wrote that if we were a “legible” charity, we would have received funding for a new one.
This is not true; nobody is going to give a grant to a charity so that one of its trustees can buy a new wheelchair. He had also scrolled back to find an old problem that has since been solved; my fiancé purchased a new folding powerchair for me back in October 2017.
And once again, his claim about our charity is untrue; we are a real registered charity.
His next share was of an old update in response to some enquiries we had received, stating that we are unable to help applicants in America or Scotland, as we are only registered to work in England with the Charity Commission. Jay described this as being unhelpful and showing a “complete lack of respect” to our applicants. Not having a certain reach with our work is not disrespect, it is a physical reality.
Finally, he shared our poster looking for appropriate pilot applicants in Southampton, as we had been given a grant by Southampton City Council to help people living within the city. He expresses surprise that we are based in Southampton, despite abundant evidence above that he was aware of this back in 2016, and he postulates that this is the reason we “refused him.” As also shown above, we did not initially refuse him.
A few days after that, I felt my phone vibrate at 1:58 in the morning while I was in bed. It was another notification that Jay Grant had shared something from our page. I could not see the share itself as he had changed the privacy settings, but he almost certainly knew that we would still receive notifications about his actions, which is his method of reaching us.
There was also an incident at my home address which for now has been left with the police.
On the Facebook page for Jay’s “Canine Services” business, we can see some irony in the form of his response to a commenter.
He coherently responds to this comment about how someone is spamming his wall with false claims; this is what he went on to do to us in 2016.
In summary, Jay’s claims about IADA are not true. He rejected our offer of an interview for a place on our pilot programme. He told us some demonstrably false claims about another charity. He spread false claims about his dog having passed a training programme that we had not even started. And now he is spreading the story that we refused to help him.
We cannot help everybody who applies to IADA, especially if they are determined to be abusive like James.
Charity activities have slowed down because I am extremely ill. That is the reality of having a charity run by and for disabled people. Disability is not in the having of a condition itself, but in the way it affects your life. My illnesses disable me, they stop me getting things done.
No one has ever requested a training visit and been refused one, we would always make the effort to go and help our clients. Before I had my new folding powerchair, I even went to see a client in an old manual chair, and had to be pushed everywhere by my other trustee. We are trying very hard to help people who, like myself and my dog, were beyond the reach of the existing system. We have no private transport and very limited financial resources, but started the charity anyway, because it had to be done.
We cannot do everything for everyone, and some people are very determined to cause difficulty with us. But we are here for the dogs and the disabled people who need us to realise their independence.