Alleged Child Abuse, Sexual Misconduct and Fraud: Inside the Disturbing World of Britain’s First Gay Dads
“We’ve shared our lives with the media since Aspen and Saffron were born, so what you see is what you get”, states Tony Drewitt-Barlow in their ‘reality’-style Warner Bros doc, but clearly there’s a lot more than meets the eye.
Back in 1999, Tony and Barrie Drewitt-Barlow became trailblazers for British gay couples who wanted to have children. They were the first two men to ever have both of their names listed as parents on the birth certificate.
Their surrogate turned out to be pregnant with twins and they had saffron and Aspen. Since then, the “millionaire” couple, went on to open their own surrogacy agency, as well do a number of TV interviews, many with their children, presenting to the world the perfect gay family. They later had another three children who would fit nicely into their Floridian mansion.
However, recently when the pair went viral, it was to announce that they’d split up because Barrie had fallen in love with Saffron’s ex-boyfriend. Quite the headline; but Barrie claimed that Saffron and Scott (his now-lover, and 25 years his junior) had never had a sexual relationship.
Although articles in the media years ago state that Saffron and Scott wanted to have their own child via surrogate; a strange move for a couple that hadn’t had sex. But not so strange a move for a parental couple who desperately wanted media attention.
In the days following the recent ‘story’, a statement was posted to Saffron’s Instagram page stated that her and Scott were never more than friends and that he had already confided in her he was gay. Barrie shared this to his page, begging the question, why would the media have thought otherwise?
They continued to insist that they were all one big happy family… but was anybody in the household actually happy?
In a number of interviews conducted by C&C, we uncovered just how far Barrie Drewitt-Barlow would go for fame, and how the perfect family he’s constructed and courted throughout the media couldn’t be further from the truth. All participants requested to remain anonymous for fear of how Barrie may respond to the article.
We spoke to a number of ex-employees who confirm that Scott had never dated Saffron, but rather he had always been Barrie’s concubine but under the guise of his assistant.
Something which seems to be confirmed with a quick stalk of Barrie’s Instagram. The photo above was Barrie’s first photo posted, back in 2013 (long before Scott ever “dated” Saffron).
September 16th (2018) shows an article from the Daily Mail, referring to Scott as Saffron’s boyfriend, yet Barrie posts consistent photos of Scott in various states of undress (along with a number of other boys naked in his hot tub) dating all the way back to 2014.
One shows a selfie of a shirtless Scott, back in 2013, captioned “shopping in NYC with Scott”; and as their interview with This Morning in 2016 confirms, 14-year-old Saffron had not started dating at this point. A strange thing to post even if Scott were Barrie’s assistant, which the family currently claims.
According to sources, Tony also had “assistants”, one of which was no older than 16 when he was allegedly collected from school and brought into the Maldon office. We can confirm that the boy in question was pictured with Tony when he was 16, but nothing further.
However, Tony was a little less obvious than Barrie about his desire for a young attractive assistant:
Barrie’s lust for fame was hardly a well-kept secret, repeatedly appearing on TV and in papers with wild claims about their daughter’s monthly allowance, which ultimately led to Saffron being branded as “spoilt”. But there are other times when it seems that Barrie utilises his family for headlines; claiming they were rebuking 18-year-old’s Aspen’s allowance for his womanising.
Two ex-members of staff also claim that they were lured to Florida under false pretences, claiming that they were “promised the world” with an “amazing opportunity”.
Jason* began working for the couple in 2015, when they approached him through an existing employee. Speaking to C&C, he tells us:
“[The Drewitt-Barlows] ruined my life. Barry constantly made inappropriate sexual comments, pulling me into the office, commenting on my bulge and how he wanted to ‘fuck me’”.
Jason then goes on to state that when he got back to the UK, “I confronted Barrie about my treatment and he threatened me, coming to my house and family, he hacked my LinkedIn profile saying I was a rent boy.”
He also claims to have heard Barrie tell Scott that if he ever left, “his life wouldn’t be worth living”.
A second employee, Sarah* backs these claims, alleging in her time working for them, she also saw Barrie bully Scott.
“Scott couldn’t even go out for drinks with his co-workers without Barrie sending him abusive messages. I also witnessed him punch Scott in the face at the Malden office, he had blood all down his white shirt”.
“Scott told me in America he is trapped, and can’t leave as Barrie would kill his mum”.
She also claims he threatened her family, and then her with an acid attack.
*Paul was another employee, back in 2017, who was approached by Barrie – a friend of a relative – through social media to come and work for their cosmetic company. Within a week of their first message, Barrie had booked Paul a flight. However, when he arrived, he says it was far from the ‘great opportunity’ it was made out to be.
Claiming the household was like “a cult”, in an exclusive interview with Cocktails and Confessions.
“They didn’t like me leaving the house,” he continued, “they used to threaten to lock me out if I wasn’t home by a certain time, I had no freedom”.
“He had the worst temper. If you were eating something that smelled [in the office], he’s been known to throw staplers at people”. Although Paul never saw Barrie throw a stapler, he recounts one time the family were filming a promotion for Stonewall, in which he allegedly saw him throw a chair at Saffron.
“Saffron gets really nervous, and so she started laughing, and he just began screaming, ‘We’re not fucking doing it’, he threatened to smash her face in”.
And he claims this wasn’t an isolated incident either, alleging that when Barrie was working in his room, “they would sit there and talk about how they’ve been beaten up, what he’s done, seeing him beat random people up”.
Paul claims when he knew his working relationship was coming to an end, (and had allegedly seen private messages from Barrie to Scott claiming he wasn’t going to pay him), he decided to record the eldest twins.
“I wanted to get home, and I wanted to get paid. I thought a) morally, I need to do something about this because he’s still got two very young children, it’s not fair. And b) needed some leverage.”
“I decided to probe into the stuff that I’d picked up on over the past couple of months, and Barrie was obviously out”.
In secretly recorded tapes obtained by C&C a boy and girl can be heard describing the violence that ‘Daddy’ incites. It’s public knowledge that Dad and Daddy (who are both mentioned in the tapes) were how the Drewitt-Barlows had their children differentiate between Tony and Barrie, respectively.
Furthermore, while the identity of the children has yet to be confirmed, the boy refers to the girl as ‘Saffron’ and she speaks to him as ‘Aspen’; as well as the names of the Drewitt-Barlow’s younger children.
We’ve pulled the most shocking quotes below:
The girl is heard saying:
“In his head he’s thinking she’s not hurt I’ve got to hit her again… and if it doesn’t hurt, he’ll hit me twice as hard cause in his head he’s thinking ‘she’s not hurt I’ve got to hit her again’ so he’ll hit me again, and whether it hurts or doesn’t hurt, you gotta show it hurts cause he’ll stop once you’ve showed it hurts”.
Later saying, “I’ve literally had everything. I’ve had a fucking stiletto lobbed at my head”.
While the boy details: “***** got slapped once and I think he hit him back when he was younger, and oh my god he slapped him so hard he couldn’t breathe, he was like (wheezing sounds)”. Paul claims that the time of recording, the child in question was only 7-years-old and therefore even younger when the incident occurred.
In another incident, when the girl claims she was just ’12 or 13’ she says, “He’s going ‘type your fucking Facebook password in’ and every time I wasn’t he would slam my head against the fucking [inaudible] and I still wouldn’t do it as I didn’t want him to see the messages. I knew I’d get into more trouble if he saw them”.
The girl also claims that previous attempts to help her have faltered: “Everyone feels sorry for me and tries to stop him. But when people try to stop him he does it harder on me”.
But it wasn’t just ‘daddy’ who allegedly got violent with the kids.
“Nana got me into trouble once, and that was when I got the boot,” claims the girl. “Apparently I swore at my nan and lied to her, and she went ‘you wait until your Dad’s home’ and I didn’t think she’d actually tell him. But I thought I’m gonna go upstairs, I’m gonna get in bed, and I’m gonna go to sleep and I went to sleep at like 3pm cause I was so scared that she would tell him.
“The next thing I knew Daddy comes upstairs, and you know when someone tries to be nice, he’d pretend ‘You had a good day Saffron? You got anything to tell me?’ and I’m like, ‘No, no. I’m fine’ and then he went, ‘Get down here now’.
So he took me downstairs, and we had like this leather thing and it opens up so you can store things in it, and he went, ‘bend over’ so I fucking bent over, and he got a shoe and he was just beating me with this shoe. And then my nan and grandad were there and my nan was going ‘Baz, go on’ and my grandad’s going ‘Baz stop it. Stop it Baz. Stop’ and my nan’s there going, ‘Go on, hit her one more time’ cause she’s encouraging him while my grandad is not encouraging him and telling him to stop.”
The boy adds, “I booted a football through my Nana’s house and it slapped her fucking cups off the side and then she came out with a knife and put a knife to my throat. I’m not even joking. My nan [inaudible] you know one of those serrated bread knives with the two spikes on the front? She got one of them and held it up to my throat.”
Paul claims he sent the tapes to the American child services, but never received a response. As well informed the British police who said they would follow-up with the claims, but never heard anything back.
This kind of punishment to children is illegal in both Florida and the UK, and Barrie is a qualified social worker and frequently comes into contact with other children through his own surrogacy agency.
Back in 2016, Barry and Tony conducted an interview with This Morning, which their two children sit miserably at. As Tony utters the words, “if there are families with morals like ours”, Saffron can’t control a smirk which seems to mock the words coming from his mouth.
She responds to Ruth with the short, blunt answers of someone that doesn’t want to be there. Barrie insists that she’s inundated with date offers, but when Tony prods “but are you enjoying it though?”
She replies, “no, not really”. At the time, Saffron was criticized for looking miserable, perhaps now we know why.
The video may suggest Paul’s claims that Saffron is controlled by her parents aren’t untrue.
The three former employees aren’t the only three claiming the pair “ruined” their lives. Back in 2015, an article in the Daily Mail claims that the surrogate mother Megan had been left in £60,000 worth of debt by them.
And the complaints don’t stop there either; a number of disturbing comments online claim Barrie has been abusive toward women – especially those enduring IVF under his care.
One commenter writes, Barrie, “My friend went there after 17 failed attempts at IVF and ended up almost needing to be sectioned after enduring threats and abuse from Barrie when it all went wrong.”
Adding, Barrie “should not be allowed anywhere near vulnerable women, given his track record of threats, intimidation and abuse.”
Back in 2011, the Drewitt-Barlow’s were investigated for clinical trial errors regarding their Euroderm Research business. It was on the news at the time, although the fact that the pair were banned from being company directors seems to have been violently swept under the rug.
However, the ban is only effective in the UK and could well explain why they moved to the US. The Mirror writes:
“When I asked Barrie to comment on his directorship ban, he told me: “All of our businesses are USA-based now, so accepting a disqualification here in the UK is no big deal.”
Sarah also claims that while she worked there, she was “forced into doing fraudulent studies”.
“When the Drewitt-Barlow’s knew I’d had enough as I didn’t want to be dishonest against clinical testing – which can kill – I was sacked for gross misconduct”. Sarah did take the Drewitt-Barlows to court over the payments they owed her and won.
Paul also took the pair to court after he alleges he was kicked out of their home in Florida without being paid.
Paul tells us, “I just lost it […] and said shove [the job] up your arse. I needed to leave, but didn’t have a flight booked for another few weeks, so I was stuffed. And he [Barrie] said, ‘when I get back you better be out of my house, or I’m gonna smash your face in’”.
Paul also won his case against them.
Adding to the fraudulent claims, Paul states: “I went into their basement in Florida and there were just boxes upon boxes of products, that they haven’t tested, they’ve just said, ‘yeah it works’”. He said many of the products came from reputable brands such as Elemis and XX.
He also alleges that in Saffron’s interview with This Morning, in which Barries claims she had made $2 million a month from selling her Barking Mad cosmetics, is a lie.
“I was there for the first few months and they didn’t. It’s all Barrie scripting it”.
Two of the former-employees claim that they were still company directors, despite new companies being set up in the names of Aspen and Colin (a relative). Both of them were allegedly employed illegally while on tourist visas.
Meanwhile, Companies House states that Princeton Consumer Research was dissolved in June 2019, but Barrie checked into the company on his Facebook account earlier this month.
Further research shows that at least four companies once ran by the couple have either dissolved or gone into liquidation.
Finally, Paul forwarded us a handful of abuse emails which he received from Barrie after leaving their home. Where – despite having been an ambassador for Stonewalls – he tells Paul to “crawl back under [his] HIV rock”.
Clearly, the allegations made by former employees along with the recordings and screenshots we’ve received paint a very different picture to the perfect one the Drewitt-Barlows have attempted to carve out via the media.
While it breaks our hearts to hear that pioneers of our community may be nothing more than fame-hungry abusers, we couldn’t allow such serious accusations to go unheard, especially with so many sources claiming the same thing. But seek hope in the fact, that Tony and Barrie certainly don’t represent our LGBTQ+ community or the standards of gay parenting.
Perhaps if the media stop reporting on their wild, baseless claims they can reject the enabling of such child manipulation – unlike Tony has. Then again, if they hadn’t courted the media so much throughout their lives – and those of their children – such behaviour may have gone unnoticed, but that’s the problem with a chronic need to be in the spotlight, sometimes it highlights the parts you wish were kept hidden.
*Names were changed the protect the identities of witnesses.