Tyne & Wear

Alan Barnes fundraiser Katie Cutler faces court over debts

Alan Barnes and Katie Cutler Image copyright PA
Image caption The story of how Katie Cutler raised the money for Alan Barnes attracted worldwide attention

A woman who raised more than £300,000 for mugged disabled pensioner Alan Barnes is facing court over an unpaid publicity bill.

Katie Cutler, 23, of Gateshead, set up an internet appeal after being moved by the plight of the 68-year-old, who is just 4ft 6in and registered blind.

As the money flooded in, PR specialist Claire Barber said she was recruited to publicise the campaign in March 2015.

But Ms Barber claimed she is still owed £6,687 by Miss Cutler.

Ms Barber said she and Miss Cutler agreed a daily fee of £550.

Miss Cutler claimed any fees were to be paid from a planned charitable foundation, which subsequently failed to take off, and not out of her own pocket.

Miss Cutler, who received a British Empire Medal for her charity work in last year's Queen's Birthday Honours, said she has been given until 20 September to pay the disputed debt or face a county court judgement against her.

She said the situation had left he feeling "stressed and sad".

Image caption Katie Cutler said the foundation she had planned to establish failed to take off

Well-wishers have now set up a fundraising page.

In a statement, Ms Barber said: "We worked together for four months achieving blanket bespoke PR coverage across almost every national newspaper, multiple TV news channels across the North East and UK.

"Katie made two payments in June 2015, then proceeded to write on social media her shock at getting our bill (which was agreed prior to any work undertaken).

"At this point we offered her a payment plan, but she wouldn't respond ... we had no choice but to go to the small claims court.

"We are a small, hard working company and we are simply not able to carry this debt."

Miss Cutler, a mother-of-one, said: "The agreement we had was that she [Clare Barber] would do it pro bono until my foundation was set up. Everyone anticipated it would raise millions of pounds and it would be very successful.

"I understood I wouldn't have to pay out of my own pocket. If I had thought I was personally liable for any of this I wouldn't have gone ahead and done it."

Miss Cutler said she had been in touch with Mr Barnes, 67, who had "understandably" said he did not want to get involved.

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