LONDON — David Beckham’s brand and reputation are on the line after a series of emails from within his innermost circle were leaked to European media, according to The Sun.
The emails, which The Sun said were uncovered by investigative journalism group European Investigative Collaborations, allegedly show Beckham raging at not being knighted by the Queen and arguing over his UNICEF responsibilities (see below).
Beckham has not yet commented on the leaked emails, but his press chief Simon Oliveira told The Sun that the emails were “stolen and hacked.” The full statement was carried by Digital Spy and said: “This story is based on outdated material taken out of context from hacked and doctored private emails from a third party server and gives a deliberately inaccurate picture.”
Business Insider has emailed Oliveira’s company, Doyen Global, but did not receive an immediate reply.
The revelations come just days after Beckham made an appearance on the 75th anniversary edition of BBC Radio 4’s flagship biographical show “Desert Island Discs.” Here, he waxed lyrical about his work as a UNICEF ambassador.
“I think more than anything… one of the most important things in my life at the moment is my charity work,” he said. “It’s not just about the amount of money that we raise, it’s meeting these children, it’s knowing that we are changing children’s lives.”
In a series of stories, The Sun and investigative journalism magazine The Black Sea revealed:
Beckham’s angry pursuit of a knighthood
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid received an OBE from the Queen in 2013, but a decade later he was chasing the bigger honour of a knighthood. But, the emails reveal, that a soft PR campaign, involving an appearance on ITV chat show “The Jonathan Ross Show,” did not pay off.
The Queen’s New Year’s Honours were published in December 2013 and Beckham was not on the list. In an email to Oliveira, he said the honours committee, which decides on who picks up the gongs, were “a bunch of c****” and that he “expected nothing less.”
Beckham added: “Who decides on the honours?? It’s a disgrace to be honest and if I was American I would of got something like this 10 years ago.”
Who decides on the honours?? It’s a disgrace to be honest and if I was American I would of got something like this 10 years ago
Oliveira advised Beckham to keep a dignified silence. Beckham replied: “I agree but it’s pissed me off those old unappreciative c****.”
The emails also revealed that Beckham backed Stay in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum thinking it would boost his chances of receiving an honour from the Queen.
Oliveira wrote: “I also think your support will play well with establishment and in turn help your knighthood.”
But the former Manchester United and Real Madrid missed out again. Oliveira’s theory was that Beckham was not knighted because tax body HMRC had “place[d] a flag” on Beckham’s nomination without giving any detail. “I pay taxes and always have done so they have no right to do this…. c****,” Beckham said in an email to his advisor.
The Black Sea said Beckham was asked to attend Spanish sports awards Premio AS del Deporte last year, where he was being honoured with a sporting “legend” prize. When Oliveira sent him the invite, Beckham replied: “Unless it’s a knighthood f*** off.”
He demanded UNICEF cover business class travel costs
Beckham has an estimated fortune of £280 million, but he is alleged to have billed UNICEF for a £6,685 business class flight he never even boarded. He was travelling to Cambodia to highlight the charity’s work, but was mixing it with business interests. It is why he ultimately took a private jet.
But Beckham’s team insisted UNICEF pay the value of the business class ticket, which he was entitled to under his contract with the charity.
In an email to the charity from his company, DB Ventures, a director said: “There is an allocation in the agreement for DB travel and that is 1 x business class return for any field trips. We will always do everything we can to allocate costs away from Unicef and minimise any expenditure but I need to be able to bill what’s agreed.”
The emails also show Beckham’s reluctance to contribute his own funds to UNICEF. The charity thought he would match the highest donation at a New York event in May 2015, but the former footballer was angry about the suggestion.
“Chloe asked me outright which I was pissed off about … I don’t want to do it and won’t do it with my own money,” he said in an email to Oliveira following a conversation with Chloe Edwards, the UNICEF ambassador relations manager.
Furthermore, it was revealed that Beckham did not initially contribute to the joint 7 Fund he has with UNICEF, which is helping children in danger from violence abuse or disease.
UNICEF said in a statement: “As well as generously giving his time, energy and support to help raise awareness and funds for UNICEF’s work for children, David Beckham has and is continuing to give significant funds personally to 7 Fund. As with all our donors who give, these details are confidential.
“All our ambassadors support UNICEF in a voluntary capacity, receiving no fee for their time and commitment, and contribute greatly to UNICEF’s work for children in danger around the world.”
The emails show how Beckham’s best friend David Gardner recognises the importance of the UNICEF work to his reputation.
In an email to Oliveira, Gardner said: “UNICEF is crucial to the brand and his life. All me and you have tried to do is … create things that he must do for charity so he looks good and people see the great work instead of people constantly reading how much money he makes or what the brand is worth.”
In a statement, Beckham’s representatives said: “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.”
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