IN THE NAME OF CHARITY
Sex Scandal Topples Tory Christian Charity Boss
A Christian charity boss lauded by Boris Johnson resigned in disgrace after a sordid affair with a volunteer he was supposed to be saving from sex slavery.
Wilson Chowdhry, 47, has been feted by prime ministers, Lords and celebrities for his work protecting vulnerable women from religious persecution and sexual abuse.
The married father of three received an award from Boris Johnson for his community work and was a guest of David Cameron at Downing Street.
But Chowdhry’s reputation now lies in tatters after what he admitted to The Upsetter were a series of “moral failures” involving a sexual relationship with 33-year-old Australian Lara Hall.
The law graduate briefly made international headlines for “escaping” a man who allegedly “groomed” her over the internet then held her as his sex slave in Pakistan.
Chowdhry, through his Essex-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), took up Hall’s case after she made it back to Australia.
She felt “trauma bonded” to Chowdhry, with whom she worked as a volunteer and then had an affair lasting five months.
The charity boss discussed marriage and children then ended the relationship abruptly after his wife found out.
The BPCA trustees turned on Hall when she wanted their help. She felt “slut shamed” and trolled as a temptress.
Hall reported Chowdhry to the Australian police. She alleged there was a dark side to the Christian charity boss: He was addicted to violent porn and during his visit to Melbourne he forced her to perform ‘deep throat’ oral sex to the point of asphyxiation.
Hall said she put up with it because of her low self esteem and a complex mental disorder due to a difficult childhood.
“My hero had become my abuser and it was the greatest betrayal of trust,” Hall told The Upsetter.
With the support of two senior MPs, Hall complained to the UK Charity Commission, which also launched an investigation.
This May, the regulator published a damning report into British Pakistani Christians Limited, the charitable company behind the BPCA.
The Commission criticised the response of trustees when Hall first reported her sexual misconduct and abuse of power allegations to them.
The regulator was also concerned about an obvious conflict of interest because not only was Chowdhry the chairman of the BPCA at the time, his wife Juliet and other business associates were the trustees.
The BPCA has changed its name to the British Asian Christian Association. But the website gives no details about the Charity Commission’s findings yet continues to solicit public donations.
Chowdhry, who has political ambitions to be a Tory councillor, denies the rape allegations and was never charged with any offence.
However, he quietly resigned as BPCA chairman before the Charity Commission report came out on 19 May.
Chowdhry claims he is the real victim of this scandal and alleges that Hall drugged and raped him in Australia.
He told The Upsetter he pretended to enjoy frequent oral sex to pacify Hall who was infatuated with him.
Hall has shared numerous misogynistic sexts and recordings with The Upsetter, which contradict Chowdhry’s version of events.
She denies rape and is apologetic for having an affair with Chowdhry:
“I am a complex victim … I am the canary down the mineshaft because my case is illuminative of a far greater problem in the charity sector.”
Lara Hall paints a very bleak picture of growing up in 1990s Australia with her twin sister.
They were the product of a “dysfunctional” marriage, she says. And when their parents split, her “distant and cold” mother remarried twice.
Initially, teachers thought the twins were slow, but any learning difficulties were down to coming from an “unsafe home”.
Lara carries “years of guilt” for not protecting her twin. And when called “stupid”, she was determined to prove her mother wrong.
“I began to have OCD-like symptoms as a teenager. I felt guilty for everything and I had a need to confess everything all the time. I approached my mother about it and she could not render appropriate assistance or give me any compassion. I was not formally diagnosed until around 2014. I have tried many medications over the years.”
Lara’s sister, who asked not to be named, is very supportive of her twin. “Perhaps you know this about my sister, I don’t know if she has told you, but she has Harm OCD – this is a condition where you don’t want to cause harm to anyone or identify with anyone who does cause harm,” she explained.
“I definitely believe that my childhood formed the basis of how I respond to trauma and perhaps the fact that I have tended to stay longer in abusive situations than I ordinarily would if I had a softer place to fall and higher self esteem.”
Young adulthood, however, was “emancipating” and Lara recalls graduating with good degrees in English and Sociology and then Law.
It was in Sydney, during a chance encounter on a train in 2012, that the then 24-year-old says she met a recently arrived Pakistani woman. They became friends over the next five years.
“I became essentially an honorary member of their family. I was over there all the time teaching English and helping them with adjusting to Australian life. In return they would make me delicious food and we would sit and have chats and laughs. We were all friends.”
At the time, Lara was going through a difficult period with an Asian boyfriend who was experiencing a mental health crisis that eventually broke them up.
Her OCD was triggered, she says, and she found support from members of her adopted immigrant family, in particular a man in Pakistan who she started talking to over the internet for the next few years.
“I found his empathy attractive. While we discussed a potential future, even marriage, and some shared goals and dreams I, at times, put the brakes on it and tempered all this with pragmatism and the fact that we need to get to know each other more to see if there was a future.”
Four years later, in April 2018, Lara accepted an invite to his brother’s wedding in Pakistan. Her flight was paid and promises made of “grand things”.
“I went there on a 30 day stay visa with the intention of getting to know him to see if the friendship could develop into a romance. Initially, when I met him, I had some feelings for him because I had a long period of getting to know him on the net and he was initially quite pleasant over the first initial days.
I did have a few initial consensual sexual encounters with him. However, once I discovered he was lying to such a significant degree and discovered his controlling behaviour, I felt very upset as though he had lured me and I didn’t want this any further … I tried through the internet to network with anyone and everyone.”
For two months Lara said she was effectively held hostage, starved and raped. She points to a “wealth of evidence in audios, texts and pictures of the abuse suffered” on her phone.
The local Pakistan police eventually responded to the digital SOS and she was escorted from the man’s house.
As an overstayer on a tourist visa she was fined and had to crowdfund her ticket back to Australia in October 2018.
The Pakistani man denied Hall’s claims and was never prosecuted. Critics point to her “happy” posts on social media at the time of her alleged ordeal as evidence she is lying. She says some of these posts were faked by her enemies:
“Happy pictures at the start of my trip do not negate the fact I was abused. I am more than confident with a dossier of evidence I have that I can show what happened to me in Pakistan. Also at times I had to curate a happy image so [he] would not know I had plans to leave.”
In 2010, Boris Johnson, then London mayor, garlanded Wilson Chowdhry with the capital’s Peace Awards for services to community cohesion.
Shafiq Ur Rehman Wilson Chowdhry was thirty-five at the time and trying to make a name for himself in his home borough of Redbridge, where east London meets Essex.
The award citation described him as “a proactive leader in his community inspiring many with his courage and bravery. Acting as an interface between communities and the Police and ASBO teams his work has helped address issues of anti social behaviour and helped foster community cohesion.”
Through the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, Chowdhry inserted himself between Ilford’s large Asian community of mainly Muslims and the local police, who as well as solving street crime were interested in countering any terror threat.
Chowdhry was a director of the family’s struggling security business, which has existed under various guises as AA Security or AA Securities and more recently he runs Jewel Security Limited.
Shortly after winning the Peace award, he set up the British Pakistani Christian Association Limited with his wife Juliet. The company dissolved in 2014 and has been superseded by British Pakistani Christians Limited.
The BPCA exists thanks to public donations, which are solicited through the website, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds going through the company’s HSBC bank account.
The money is said to be for helping Christians, mainly in Pakistan, for general poverty relief, the promotion of religious harmony and equality and also for protecting “vulnerable Christian girls from abduction and rape.”
It was this work that caught the government’s eye in 2014, when Wilson and Juliet Chowdhry were invited to an Easter reception at Downing Street to tell prime minister David Cameron about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan.
Chowdhry was excised by the use of blasphemy laws and highlighted the infamous case of Asia Bibi, who was kept on death row for eight years, where she alleged torture.
Bibi was freed in 2018. In October that year, Lara Hall made it back to south Australia after her own ordeal in Pakistan.
The law graduate was in “a bad state” but contacted Chowdhry offering to work on the Bibi case as a BPCA volunteer. Helping others she felt would help her own recovery.
Chowdhry was supportive and they discussed the possibility of establishing a branch of the charity in Australia. The BPCA chairman flew to Australia in late November 2018 to participate in a rally in Sydney to support Asia Bibi, which Lara had organised.
She also set up meetings with church leaders and Australian foreign office officials. Chowdhry had put his name to ‘Lara’s Amendment’ – a piece of draft legislation to curb internet grooming of vulnerable woman, improve Australian consular services and establish a hotline for those needing a safe exit from Pakistan.
A meeting with prime minister Scott Morrison, a religious right-winger, was cancelled at the last minute, Lara recalls.
Nothing sexual happened between the Christian charity boss and his volunteer on that first visit to Australia. But on his return to Essex, Chowdhry did all he could to fan a spark into a flame.
A Current Affair
Over Christmas 2018, Chowdhry was “working on a report about Apostasy hatred” for a Home Office inquiry into Islamophobia.
Apostasy is the renunciation of religious beliefs and principles, which in one sense is how Chowdhry was now behaving by making sexual advances towards a vulnerable volunteer he was championing as a victim of sexual abuse in Pakistan.
Chowdhry had developed a secret text code for when it was not safe to speak to Lara. If he texted the number 4 it meant his wife or children were around. If she received a text saying ‘abetz’ then the coast was clear for sexting.
“We began sending intimate pics, “ Lara told The Upsetter. “He would masturbate on camera to me. He would ask me for dirty pictures or videos. This is when he planned the second trip to Australia.”
Asked for his response, Chowdhry volunteered that he was a 28-year-old virgin when he married in 2003, adding:
“Ms Hall and I became romantically linked over the phone. There was a natural connection because we were both so passionate about helping in Pakistan. I told her about my marriage troubles which arose mainly because of the amount of time and effort I was putting into the charity.
We agreed to be good friends because we realised we both understood each other. It was great to have someone close to talk with constantly but inevitably the connection grew stronger.
At the time my wife was talking about leaving me when my eldest daughter turned 18. She was fed up of my commitment to the charity. I told Lara that if she was still around when that happened she could fill the gap.
Lara changed from here on. She starting playing the role of a wife and I ran with it but all through our conversations I made it clear we would not have sex until and only if my wife left.
Lara did start sexting and I did tell her to stop initially but then accepted it for a while. I eventually got her to stop. This was a moral failure.”
Chowdhry said he agreed to go to Australia for a second time in early February 2019 in part because Lara was nervous about doing a TV interview for Channel 9 News concerning her experience in Pakistan.
“Meeting Lara was exciting but never the priority … This was a work trip with opportunity to catch up with Lara, but she always knew we were to be good friends and perhaps more if Juliet left.
There was no intention to have sex and early discussion meant the hotel rooms were to be separate but she then said she could not afford it because her cheque had not arrived. I was a little uncomfortable with this but the room was large with two beds and we agreed we could hug. This was also a moral failure.”
Chowdhry’s flight to Melbourne was paid from charity funds but strangely he allowed Lara to pay for the hotel room “using money she had secured from a magazine interested in her Pakistan story,” he said.
What happened in the hotel room over the next nine days is the subject of major dispute and criminal allegations.
Lara claims loving consensual sex soon turned into violent deep throating to the point of unconsciousness and physical injury. She would wake up with his penis in her mouth and the ordeal begin again.
Chowdhry says Lara drugged and raped him on the day he arrived from London. He said:
“When I went upstairs she arrived later with a glass of wine for me. We sat, talked, she hugged me and then tried to kiss but I did not want to. I was having second thoughts and felt guilty.
Lara then attempted to pull down my joggers. I said no three or four times and then passed out as she was taking off my joggers. I woke up some time later and she was giving me oral sex. I was in a haze.
We argued about this, about her comments and other stuff and I packed up my stuff to leave. She would not let me leave, saying she loved me, at one point pushing me then grabbing a knife and standing by the door. She then said ‘Go then but you’ll regret it.’”
Chowdhry explained that he did not report Lara because he believed she was plotting to “blackmail” him with a false rape accusation.
“I believe I had been drugged and woken up with her giving me oral sex. I was now compromised. I had seen what Lara had done to the other man in Pakistan but my biggest fear was my wife finding out – I did not want to lose her realising the treasure that I had.
I realised being an Asian man makes you a lesser citizen and that it is easy to accuse an Asian man of rape when you are a white woman as so many people instantly believe it.
I just caved in and had to pretend to want to be with Lara, but I did not want to spend another minute in her company. I don’t know why I caved in but I was just shattered, any man faced with a rape allegation probably feels the same – I literally thought I was going to die.”
In rebutting these claims, Lara has produced WhatsApp messages from ‘Wilson’ where he begs to be allowed to stay in the hotel room.
A witness who Chowdhry named to The Upsetter as someone who could corroborate his account of rape and blackmail “emphatically” denied it.
The witness, who asked not to be named in this article, said of the hotel room incident:
“I witnessed Wilson’s violent aggressive nature one night when they were both staying in Melbourne. I needed to calm Wilson down over the phone and had high level concerns for Lara’s physical and mental safety.”
Chowdhry confirms that after the hotel incident he and Lara nevertheless spent two days filming with Channel 9’s weekly topical news programme, appropriately titled ‘A Current Affair.’
The charity boss appeared on the show not only in support of his alleged rapist but also of her claims to have been raped in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the WhatsApp messages reveal that ‘Wilson’ often expressed misogynistic views about women and oral sex.
“It became very clear he is a sex addict capable of masturbating nine times a day or more. He was also very addicted to pornography and very violent pornography. The more violent the better. He seemed to like to play with power dynamics in the sexual context and he said he found that a huge turn on.
In any event, he subjected me to hours long ordeals of deep throat, and I would be passing in and out of consciousness. I remember things going very black at times and crying because it was really awful.”
Lara claims that during one hotel room sex session she hurt her back and had to be taken hospital where she lied to the nurse that it was a “rough sex” incident. Chowdhry denies this and claims Lara slipped while jumping on the bed.
The sexual relationship with Chowdhry was not all abusive, she explained:
“I want to point out that I did consent to giving him normal blow jobs. There were loving and sexual encounters. We also had normal penetrative sex, which I consented to.”
Chowdhry told The Upsetter he refused to go downtown while they were down under because he didn’t want to encourage Lara sexually. He said:
“While in Australia I told her I was not attracted to women’s vagina to keep her away … I categorically deny it, we never had coitus. I kept telling her I was ‘allergic to vaginal sex’”
However, Chowdhry doesn’t deny that he discussed having children with Lara.
“I don’t remember it. These would be conversations Ms Hall triggered. I know she was desperate to have a baby. I believe she felt that would make her more solid with me. I was not interested in more children or a family. I am not the type of person to meet someone and suddenly want children. I have three daughters and don’t really need more. It would have been hard for Lara to have children with me without any coitus.”
The charity boss also doesn’t deny that he continued to allow Lara to go down on him. He said:
“If I am honest I remember so little of my time with Lara there would have been occasions she would give me oral sex – but I hated it.
It took really long because I did not want to climax as she was catching the sperm and inserting it in her vagina to get pregnant. I cannot tell you how dark a memory this is for me.
I was blackmailed into being her boyfriend as she would threaten to call my wife or other people if I left her … I was actually terrified and just waiting so I could get back home and try and make her hate me or hate the distance.”