Tuesday 24 October 2017

Beckham rejects accusation of 'angling for a knighthood'

Star hits back after hacked emails appear to show ex-footballer railing against other celebrities

Angry: David Beckham with wife Victoria
Angry: David Beckham with wife Victoria

Patrick Sawyer

David Beckham has hit out at claims that he used his children's charity work as part of a cynical campaign to land a knighthood.

The former England football captain has angrily denied getting involved with Unicef's campaigns and projects purely in order to build a favourable public image and present himself as a fitting candidate for the senior honour.

The claims came after a series of emails purporting to be from Beckham were published yesterday in which he appeared to rail at not being selected for a knighthood.

In one, he allegedly states: "They r a bunch of t***s. I expected nothing less. Who decides on the honors [sic]?? It's a disgrace to be honest and if I was American I would have got something like this 10 years ago."

But in a forthright statement, Beckham, who was awarded the OBE in 2003, rejected the claims, maintaining that some of the emails had been doctored and others had been taken out of context.

His PR team said that the cache of emails from Beckham to his publicist Simon Oliveira and others in his team were obtained after Oliveira's computer server was illegally hacked.

Hacked emails suggest Beckham was furious that Katherine Jenkins, pictured, was given an OBE. He maintains the emails have been doctored (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Hacked emails suggest Beckham was furious that Katherine Jenkins, pictured, was given an OBE. He maintains the emails have been doctored (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

A spokesman for Beckham dismissed the story yesterday, saying: "This story is based on outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private emails and gives a deliberately inaccurate picture."

In one particularly embarrassing email, Beckham appears to object to Katherine Jenkins, the singer, who once used her Twitter account to deny having an affair with him, being given an OBE in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to music and for charitable services.

The alleged email to Oliveira says: "Katherine Jenkins OBE for what? Singing at the rugby and going to see the troops, plus admitting to taking coke.… F***ing joke and if you get asked we should think of a cutting remark."

But Beckham, a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador since 2005, is understood to be particularly angry that the emails appear to show him as cynically using his charity work to curry favour with the honours committee.

He is also furious that they depict him as demanding money from the United Nations children's charity to pay for flights and hotels to visit its projects with children in places such as the Philippines.

In one email, he apparently complained about being asked to match the highest bidders at a Unicef auction in New York, stating: "Chloe asked me an outright which I was p*****… I don't want to do it and won't do it with my own money." Another appears to show his staff haggling with Unicef over its choice of accommodation for Beckham during his 2015 trip to Cambodia.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star had been booked by the charity into the five-star Sofitel hotel, but Beckham apparently wanted to stay in the luxurious Amansara resort, with his staff wanting Unicef to pay part of the bill.

One email states: "Would Unicef contribute the same amount that was being paid for the Sofitel and he'll make up the difference in price for the place he wants to stay."

However, Beckham is at pains to point out that through his appearances and the work of his foundation, the 7 Fund, he has raised millions of pounds for the charity.

A statement issued by his PR team says: "David Beckham and Unicef have had a powerful partnership in support of children for over 15 years. The David Beckham 7 Fund has raised millions of pounds and helped millions of vulnerable children around the world.

"David Beckham has given significant time and energy and has made personal financial donations to the 7 Fund and this commitment will continue long term.

"Before establishing the 7 Fund, David had supported Unicef and a number of other charities over many years, including donating his entire earnings from PSG during his time playing there. David and Unicef are proud of what they have and will continue to achieve together and are happy to let the facts speak for themselves."

Unicef also came to the star's defence. Although it would not comment on the veracity of the emails because it had not seen the originals, it described Beckham as "generously giving his time, energy and support to help raise awareness and funds for Unicef's work for children".

It said: "David has given significant funds personally. The 7 Fund supports programmes for children, tackling issues such as malnutrition, violence, Aids and emergencies."

Unicef cited Beckham's visit to Swaziland in June 2016 to raise awareness of the devastating drought affecting Eastern and Southern Africa, and said since the launch of the 7 Fund in February 2015 it had raised millions of pounds for Unicef programmes and "reached millions of people around the world with crucial messages about our work for very vulnerable children".

Unicef said the 7 Fund is helping it to provide improved water and sanitation to children and their families in Burkina Faso and provide vital support and protection to HIV-positive mothers and children in Swaziland.

Beckham's organisation also works with Unicef in Papua New Guinea, helping to provide life-saving food to young children and funding a range of child protection services to help keep children in Cambodia safe.


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