POLICE have launched a probe into the organisers of controversial children's beauty pageants in Scotland.
There are claims thousands of pounds raised by contestants for charity were never passed on to the good causes.
An inquiry into Glasgow-based Modelscotland has been launched after parents of some taking part became suspicious that donations appeared to have gone missing.
Modelscotland, founded last year by former beauty queen Angel Dairo, 26, has staged a number of events for under-12s, including Miss Little Scotland, Scotland's Cutest Kid and Miss Mini Alba.
The mother of one 12-year-old girl who took part in the Miss Little Scotland contest, held in Glasgow in June last year, raised the alarm with police, sparking an inquiry. Her daughter was one of 15 finalists, aged six to 12. They were encouraged to raise money that would be shared out among 11 causes. Donations, which had to be made in cash, were handed over by parents during registration on the morning of the competition.
More than £2000 was raised, but only two charities contacted by The Herald confirmed receiving donations from Modelscotland last summer, both of about £25.
In its response to the allegations, Modelscotland claimed it had raised £6218 for charities through events held between March 2013 and October 2013. It provided a breakdown of donations, which included about £500 in cash handed in to shops belonging to Cancer Research, the British Red Cross, British Heart Foundation and the Salvation Army. This is impossible to verify.
There are further questions about the whereabouts of the largest donation Modelscotland claims to have made - £3850 to the Nigeria branch of the Motherless Children Foundation of Africa. Modelscotland provided The Herald with a letter it claimed to have received from the charity, acknowledging its "generous donation".
The document, not dated, carries the logo of the Kentucky-based Motherless Child Foundation, which supports orphans in Kazakhstan. It has no connection with Africa and its founders, David and Nanci Spurlock, said they had never heard of Modelscotland.
Mrs Spurlock said: "That is certainly our logo and our trademarked name, however, that is not a letter from our organisation. We have never heard of Modelscotland. I am not sure where they would have got a copy of our letterhead. That is a bit disturbing."
Until yesterday, Modelscotland was also using the Motherless Child Foundation's logo on posters advertising its Scottish Pageant Awards ceremony, to be held in the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow, on March 16, with entertainment from Radio Clyde 1 DJs and Sarah Cassidy from BBC show The Voice.
Mrs Spurlock confirmed her charity had "no relationship with the Scottish Pageant Awards".
After The Herald queried this with Modelscotland, the company's Facebook page began referring to the "Motherless Babies Foundation" instead.
The letter provided by Modelscotland lists the charity number as 1117042, which refers to an organisation called Motherless Children of Africa Ltd, registered in England and Wales in 2006 and headquartered in Essex.
However, the charity - whose directors were Nigerian Princewill Ewest Agbonkonkon and German national Benson Benson Ameny- was dissolved in April 2008. There is no suggestion it has any affiliation to Modelscotland.
Nigerian-born Ms Dairo, who lives in East Kilbride, said: "There are over 150 charities in Nigeria called Motherless Child Foundation. And obviously we do not have any association with a motherless foundation in Kentucky. One of the motherless children foundation[s] in Nigeria will be gracing the Scottish Pageant Award[s], hence their logo on our flyers. If the Motherless Children Foundation Kentucky have any problem with a similar logo of them being used, it will be best to sort it out with the Motherless Child Foundation - Nigerian West." She added the charity number related to a Nigerian, not UK, charity.
Police Scotland said: "We have received information from a member of the public in relation to Modelscotland. Inquiries are at an early stage and no criminality has been established so far."
Always money, money, money.... see how the story unfolded here