How ‘UK’s kindest plumber’ James Anderson banked donations with lies such as saving suicidal woman who was already DEAD

HE was hailed as “Brit­ain’s kindest plumber” for his charitable deeds of fixing boilers for free and assisting the elderly during winter.

But now James Anderson is in hot water over allegations he lied about many of those he supposedly helped — and even passed off someone as a happy customer who was DEAD.

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The ‘UK’s kindest plumber’ James Anderson is facing allegations he lied about many of those he supposedly helpedCredit: SWNS
James Anderson was hailed as 'Brit­ain’s kindest plumber' for his charitable deeds of fixing boilers for free and assisting the elderly during winter

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James Anderson was hailed as ‘Brit­ain’s kindest plumber’ for his charitable deeds of fixing boilers for free and assisting the elderly during winter
The social post detailing Anderson's suicide rescue dash - is the same photo used in other posts about his 'kind deeds'

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The social post detailing Anderson’s suicide rescue dash – is the same photo used in other posts about his ‘kind deeds’Credit: BBC
The picture is of the same person that Anderson claimed to have stopped taking her own life, above

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The picture is of the same person that Anderson claimed to have stopped taking her own life, aboveCredit: Facebook

The 56-year-old, who received praise from the King and the late Queen, has issued a grovelling apology following revelations his social enterprise firm, Depher, fabricated stories of aiding the needy while getting substantial donations from the public which he splurged on a new house and car.

Among the deceitful accounts of Depher — which stands for Disabled and Elderly, Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response — is Anderson’s purported rescue of an 84-year-old woman from suicide. She had died more than two years previously.

Anderson is also accused of publishing another elderly client’s private information online — despite them refusing permission.

Social media stories of his heroics made Anderson, from Burnley, an internet sensation during the cost-of-living crisis, netting him a Pride of Manchester award, a letter from the late Queen and donations from stars including Lily Allen and Hugh Grant.

READ MORE ON CHARITY SCAMS

Yet his actions are called into question in new BBC documentary, Scams & Scandals: Britain’s Hero Plumber — Exposed.

Available on iPlayer now, the show unveils “pattern of lies and allegations of exploitation”, according to the broadcaster.

Analysis by the Beeb found that Anderson made at least £2 million in donations.

‘Best job in world’

Actor Hugh Grant is said to have given £75,000 to the plumber’s firm — with Anderson saying the star’s generosity will “give hope to thousands”. Singer Lily Allen and Emmerdale actress Samantha Giles also reportedly donated.

On BBC Breakfast in 2022, Ander­son said he had “the best job in the world”, explaining: “I can give.”

He added: “We have seen people who have come to the end of their tether and are sick and tired of people saying no to them.

“We want to get them out of that, take away the stigma. We do what we can for everybody.”

But Anderson’s “hero” status could be heading for the gutter following the BBC investigation.

It claims Depher peddled a false suicide claim that portrayed Anderson as a saviour.

According to the BBC, a post from June 12, 2022, showed a woman with her face covered next to Anderson with the caption: “Shared with permission.

“A lady, 84 years old rang [Depher and] spoke to myself, she was upset and desperate.

“She lived 53 miles away in #Preston I drive as fast as i could, when I got there she had a noose ready to commit suicide. All she wanted was hot water! #costoflivingcrisis”.

The broadcaster identified the woman as someone Anderson had helped with a free shower repair who had died in February 2020 — a year before her image started to be used online by Depher.

Her daughter told the Beeb the post’s claims were “a complete lie” and made it seem Anderson was “us­ing vulnerable people like my moth­er as a money-making machine”.

When challenged, Anderson admitted the post was false and apologised to the family but denied putting the image online himself.

The same image was posted online seven times between February 2021 and August 2023, with varying ages and locations, the BBC reported.

Depher has also been accused of creating misleading posts with an image of a different dead woman. The firm reportedly posted an image of a woman with her face blacked out, claiming she had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

When challenged by the BBC, Anderson reportedly admitted the post was “a lie” and promised to investigate how it was sent from his company’s Twitter account.

One former Depher employee told the BBC that many people “didn’t consent” to having their photos used on social media and said the company would receive complaints from relatives. Anderson told the BBC that a written consent process for social media pictures was put in place since last year.

In another case, Depher was said to have posted videos and photos of a man in his 90s more than 20 times after fitting him a free boiler, despite him declining to be filmed. The posts included information that the man was afraid he would face discrimination because he was gay, according to the BBC.

It says the posts were linked to fundraising appeals for Depher that raised about £270,000.

The man’s neighbour told the BBC: “He was a private person, he would never agree to anything like that. That’s disgusting. He’d hate it.”

Mr Anderson told the broadcaster he “didn’t listen” to the man properly and said he should have removed any identifying details.

Safeguarding issues were also raised after a domestic abuse victim was allegedly pictured online with her child and accused of theft — despite no evidence being provided.

In another alleged safeguarding error an elderly woman’s bank details could be seen in paperwork in a photo posted online by Depher, which was shared 11,000 times.

When the BBC alerted the woman, she is said to have been “horr­ified”. Her son reportedly describ­ed the post as “absolute exploitation”.

The Fundraising Regulator has opened an investigation into Depher in light of the Beeb’s investigation. The Charity Commission has also confirmed it had previously rejected Depher’s applications to register as a charity after determining it was not charitable.

In an interview with the BBC, the plumber denied some of the alleg­ations but said: “I know I’ve done it wrong. I apologise. But what can I do? I haven’t got a magic stick. I’m not Harry Potter.”

Good deeds went viral

Described as one of the “most recognisable faces in Burnley”, Anderson left his day job as a plumber to start Depher in 2017.

Depher relies on donations and income from private jobs to give clients free services. It is a Community Interest Company (CIC), which means it benefits the public.

Since 2019, it has posted hundreds of stories about good deeds it says it carried out, such as helping pensioners, cancer patients or struggling families. Depher — thought to have about 13 employees — has used donations to fund food, pay energy bills, do plumbing work and help with funeral costs.

Tales of the good deeds had gone viral, helping Anderson — who has five children with wife Babs — become a celebrity.

He has been a guest on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, The One Show, Sky News and the Russell Howard Show, lauded as a “hero plumber”.

Last year he and Babs featured on Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Gar­den, where deserving people have their outdoor spaces renovated.

Anderson posted a statement online ahead of the BBC broadcast, apologising for “mistakes” and insisting: “We are taking this very seriously and we are going to change.”

“I’m really really sorry”, he said, adding that his enterprise has changed the way its X account is used and put in place training on safeguarding and data protection.

“If you wish Depher to not continue, please let us know”, he said. “I can understand the upset and I can understand the harm that may have been inflicted on certain people through mistakes that we have made, and again I apologise for it.

“For seven years, my heart has been in this. For seven years we have helped countless people. We have saved countless lives.”

The plumber also told the BBC he is looking for forgiveness from the country. He said: “I’m really sorry and I will make amends.”

Last night The Sun contacted Depher for a comment.

You’re Not Alone

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide

It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

Another of Anderson's social media brags - but the elderly man did not want publicity

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Another of Anderson’s social media brags – but the elderly man did not want publicityCredit: Supplied
The Depher shop in Burnley from where Anderson operates

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The Depher shop in Burnley from where Anderson operatesCredit: CPHCIC
Samantha Giles, Hugh Grant and Lily Allen are all said to have donated to Anderson's Depher

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Samantha Giles, Hugh Grant and Lily Allen are all said to have donated to Anderson’s Depher