On 10th February 2022, the Charity Commission published its inquiry ‘Keeping Kids Company’, twelve months after the High Court dismissed the directors’ disqualification case against Kids Company trustees and CEO Camila Batmanghelidjh. Kids Company collapsed in 2015 in the wake of unfounded sexual abuse allegations, and a smear campaign by a politically motivated media. Leverets, led by Barrister and Head of Legal Practice Rupert Butler, represented Camila Batmanghelidjh in the Kids Company trial and before the Charity Commission.
We are disappointed in the Charity Commission’s finding that Kids Company was mismanaged by its trustees and dismayed that the public continues to be misled by a sustained false narrative about how the charity was run and why it failed.
Undermining the High Court Ruling
The Charity Commission’s Inquiry Report fundamentally contradicts the judgment of Mrs Justice Falk, who presided over a rigorous 10-week trial, which found that neither Camilla Batmanghelidjh nor the trustees were guilty of any wrongdoing, dishonesty, bad faith, or inappropriate personal gain, by asserting that if the trustees had gathered adequate reserves, then the Charity may not have collapsed in the teeth of false sexual abuse allegations.
This conclusion is absurd.
The Charity Commission has come under fire in recent years for its performance in how it serves the constituency it regulates – charities and charity trustees. This report perfectly highlights the regulator’s inadequate processes and lack of transparency by replicating the rejected allegation of the Official Receiver and failing to scotch the false narrative perpetuated by certain factions of the media.
At the time of the High Court ruling in 2021 Justice Falk pointed out the negative implications for the charitable sector if the Official Receiver had succeeded in its claim, which depends on the generosity of skilled and experienced volunteers. She stated: “It is vital that the actions of public bodies do not have the effect of dissuading able and experienced individuals from becoming or remaining charity trustees. Disqualification proceedings, or the perceived risk of them, based on wide ranging but unclear allegations of incompetence rather than any want of probity, carry a high risk of having just that effect, and great caution is therefore required.”
It is extraordinary that the Charity Commission appears determined to throw caution to the wind with this report. Its oppressive drive to professionalise the charity sector by placing fundraising techniques, charity worker activities, motives and pay under increased regulatory control comes at an unacceptable cost to frontline services. This risks eroding public trust and deterring volunteering when the need for a robust charity sector is greater than ever.