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The real story behind the story about the battle for control over Barnabas Fund

by on October 29, 2015

After the demise of Harriet’s Place’s beloved Richard Armbach, a sabbatical from the fray was just what Harriet’s doctor prescribed.  Harriet’s Place has continued on Facebook, if only to keep her very exquisitely manicured toes in the proverbial waters.  It appears that Harriet and her staff can no longer rest on their laurels with the recently revealed vendetta by Mark Woods of Christian Today against Barnabas Fund (and our devoted readers all know how Harriet’s Place loves a good vendetta).

So, without further ado, let’s get on with the task at hand and tell the real story of the Barnabas Fund’s former Trustee’s battle for control and why they really did it.

Just who is Mark Woods?

Let’s begin by asking just who Mark Woods is?  Harriet’s Place’s sources reveal that his lackluster journalism career (his tenure at Baptist Times during its demise has left us with many questions) matches his career as a clergyman.  What can be said about a man who proudly says on his Twitter page “Happy being a grumpy old man”. Just what kind of ordained minister would be proud of being grumpy, not to mention who would post the photo below, to go along with such an introduction?  Do they not teach Warmth and Smiling at Reverend skool? The answer is that such a person is probably not known for playing nice in the sand box to begin with, let alone have deep meaningful connections outside his own fantasy of being the world’s minder.  Yes, his body of work on display at Christian Today indicates that “Revd.” Woods has appointed himself the moral compass of Christendom, which Harriet’s Place has an issue with, given his heretical leanings, evidenced in his opinion pieces.  And remember, dear reader, Mark Woods offers not true journalism, but rather, his highly (self) esteemed opinion, as a legend in his own mind.

Mark Woods


Baptist minister and writer. Contributing editor . Happy being a grumpy old man.

But enough about Mark Woods.  Harriet is bored already with the subject, given that he’s a man without a life whose penchant for salacious pictures and backroom scuttlebut, instead of serving his fellow man, probably means he’s his own fan club.

What’s in this vendetta for Mark Woods?

So what would be in this vendetta for Mark Woods?  The answer is plenty.  Attention and the power he derives from slagging off his fellow human beings makes for a psychological profile that belies his title of Reverend. After 2 unsuccessful stints at the Methodist Recorder and Baptist Times, Mark Woods has a lot to gain by attempting a titillating “expose” of Barnabas Fund and Patrick Sookhdeo….redemption.  The only problem is, redemption includes finding the truth, and what Mark Woods thinks he’s found is nothing more than the sour grapes of a cabal of power mongers who thought they were going to take over one of the most successful charities in the UK.  They thought that much of it, to want to take it over and control it, but to their dismay, they found that Barnabas Fund has a unique purpose, history, and future, and it wasn’t one they could dominate and subvert. Patrick Sookhdeo wouldn’t allow it, so now we have what Mark Woods has titled Patrick Sookhdeo: The untold story of the battle for control of Barnabas when really, it should be titled “Patrick Sookhdeo:  The CEO we couldn’t own.  And now we find out that since they couldn’t control it, they want to discredit it.  It’s human nature…if you’re bent.  

Who are Mark Woods’ sources?

You see, the former trustees of Barnabas Fund wanted control.  They had no idea what they were going to do with Barnabas Fund when they got control of it, because none of them had the connections nor temperament to deal with the intricacies of the work, being the wannabes they are, but they were going to give it their best shot at taking it over, come hell or high water.  What they got was the hell they didn’t bargain for.  Having none of the clearances that Patrick Sookhdeo has, nor knowledge of what exactly to do with Barnabas Fund’s substantial donations, they launched their takeover bid and failed.  Patrick Sookhdeo wasn’t going to just lie down and let a bunch of misguided misanthropes take his life’s work from him, and had you been challenged by the likes of them, you would have fought tooth and nail to prevent it too.  His work at Barnabas Fund is a reflection of his faith journey, a journey that has been long and hard for a Muslim born convert to Christianity from Guyana, who has faced more adversity over it than most of the former trustees will ever know in their life times, combined.  I’d like to remind you that Dr. Sookhdeo and his wife are both suffering from serious or life threatening illnesses and have been, since before this travesty began.  And these people knew it.

Let’s talk about the sexual assault conviction, shall we?

So for Mark Woods to keep his pretense as a viable journalist, he had to come up with something big and that something came to him by way of Patrick’s conviction for sexual assault.  This made Mark Woods salivate at that thought of breaking the story to the world, but the problem is, he doesn’t bother to put the facts of the conviction forward so he intentionally leaves it to our imaginations, and you all know what happens when that’s done.  The reality is, Patrick Sookhdeo found his office full of sexually charged women to the point where he had to do something about it.  The office blather was too juicy, the employees’ fashion choices were more befitting a gentlemen’s club, and the excessive hugging that went on left him no choice but to put an end to it.  But what Patrick didn’t know what this: the former trustees had already poisoned the well and the offending employees had taken notes.  It was a perfect storm, and Dr. Revd. Patrick Sookhdeo was having none of it.  One former trustee (of the non-psycho variety) tells us that while one employee was checking her cleavage daily at work for just the right “plump”, Patrick Sookhdeo was trying to revamp the dress code, and a few office policies such as implementing an “open door” policy so that he wasn’t held captive by one of these Mata Haris in his office anymore, because there was a residual scent in the air of racism, conspiracy and betrayal, left by the former trustees.

Her hugs had gone from uncomfortable to entirely inappropriate and in delivering one of her usual, Patrick’s hand brushed her breast.  BAM!  We have a “victim”.  There was the opportunity she’d been waiting for. Already angry that her immodesty had been mentioned and her job proficiency was questionable, and with full knowledge of the former trustees’ agenda (one of which she still calls friend),  she had him.  It didn’t come out in court that she had tried to cultivate more than an office friendship with him…mostly because he’s a gentleman and Harriet’s Place had to pry it from someone Patrick used to call friend.  It also didn’t come out in court that one of these women was severely mentally ill and a mere BOO! in her direction sent her into a hand washing marathon that ultimately led to her opting to stay home. Mr. Bean could have been intimidating to that one.  Given that Patrick Sookhdeo doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and the highly tense and intense nature of his rescue work behind battleground lines, he doesn’t have time for hand holding and baby talk to a bunch of hormonal co-dependent women.  It’s interesting that there are other women we’ve talked to that didn’t find offense in Patrick’s management style and needed no special care.  It’s also interesting that our investigation has turned up that some equally distressing language used by the former trustees took place, but Mr. Woods fails to mention that. I hear it would have made a sailor blush.  Based on our interviews, we have to wonder about the balance of Mr. Woods’ article.

It’s not lost on us here at Harriet’s Place that while convicted of sexual assault, which came out in court as a boob bump, Mr. Woods continues to try to infer that Dr. Sookhdeo should be shunned, castigated, and humiliated as a sexual predator just as much as the rapist on the dark street corner who has stalked his victim, should be. This is where Woods shows his pathology and true intent.  He’s joined a group of former trustees and former employees with the sole purpose of taking Dr. Revd. Patrick Sookhdeo down.  He’s accepted partial and inaccurate information as gospel, and has fallen for the old fallacy that everything that happens in court is the truth. Any prosecutor or defense attorney can tell you that court is like an orchestrated performance with the better performer being the winner.  Many of us here at Harriet’s Place are either former litigators or associates of litigators, and whether in the US or UK, it’s still a dog and pony show, regardless of how one feels about the sanctity of our respective legal institutions and their verdicts.  Given the demographics of Patrick’s jury, it’s no wonder that the convergence of a poor defence and a victim-conscious jury rendered him guilty.  But please, Mr. Woods, spare me the histrionics.  Patrick Sookdheo poses no more a threat to another female or the public than I do, given that his battle with bladder cancer and its treatment makes him not the least bit interested in the extramarital hijinks his alleged “victim” pursued.  As a matter of fact, his alleged “victim” fits the psychological profile of a litigious money seeker and if I were a betting woman, I’d bet she’s sued before or wanted to.  We wonder how much she’s asking for from Barnabas Fund?  We bet it’s a bundle. That mentality is intimidating to any employer and the mistake on BF’s part, is in hiring her (and her cleavage) in the first place.

Intimidating, bullying, threats, and polarising.

Speaking of intimidating, Mr. Woods uses it freely when describing Patrick Sookhdeo along with “bullying, threats, and polarising”.  What’s interesting is the only people using those terms are the very people who have either been a failure to perform at their job, a former trustee who wanted control or a minion of theirs, or someone who spent more time shopping for 4 inch stilettos than at her computer.  We suspect that Mark Woods only asked for complaints or did he cast a wider net for interviews as a real journalist would?  Polarising is an interesting characterisation, given that Dr. Sookhdeo founded Barnabas Fund; its work is highly confidential and often based on rare intelligence being smuggled out of areas of conflict, and the utmost trust in his staff, Executive, and Trustees is required so that lives and valuable intelligence aren’t lost due to loose lips or people with hidden agendas.  In war and intelligence, you’re either with him or against him.  There’s no room for idiots or divisiveness, which the former trustees embodied, in both cases.

Follow the money! 

Here at Harriet’s Place, we have a credo we live and investigate by.  “Follow the money” has served us well over the years and another interesting point to make about the former trustees is that their gripes are all about the money and how it was spent.  Harriet’s Place has been watching this case develop from the beginning and since Barnabas Fund is an organisation of over 20 years duration, it’s fascinating how a bunch of new trustees would immediately home in on the money…and how the apparatuses that have been in place for those 20 years to allocate what money goes where and how, were suddenly in question.  Harriet’s Place investigators have had the corporate structure map, procedures, and policies of Barnabas Fund for some time now (HT to DF), and even a grade schooler can see what the former trustees have obviously missed, and that Mark Woods is so hell bent on casting public aspersions on BF’s viability as a charity, hoping to draw the attention of the Charity Commission to do his dirty work for him, that we now wonder how he gets by in life.  With constant legal advice, audits, and compliance requirements, Barnabas Fund doesn’t fart without asking someone in authority for permission.  To accuse Caroline Kerslake of unauthorised spending is ludicrous, if you know Caroline, or as in our case, we know someone who does.  The lady doesn’t rub her pocket change together without considering the consequences, let alone spend 585,000 without her committee’s signed and sealed consent.

It’s just too bad that Mr. Woods has chosen to go this route, but when pathology is involved, one doesn’t often have a choice and we here at Harriet’s Place, feel his pain.

Mr. Woods has promised us more to come and we can’t wait, because we, too, can name and shame, if need be. Keep the hot tips coming, folks…this is getting interesting.  There’s a lot more to talk about and you all know how Harriet likes to tell all.  Watch this space.

As it is with Mr. Woods, Barnabas Fund has not responded to our request for an interview…but we won’t be deterred.


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  1. Ian Dewitt permalink

    The allegations made by Mark Woods underscore your analysis that the Trustees are still trying to press their failed agenda on Barnabas Fund. When is this conspiracy going to end?

  2. Andy A. permalink


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