Augustine Housing Trust withdraws appeal to tribunal against statutory inquiry

A ruling from the charity tribunal shows that the appeal was withdrawn on 1 October; the Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity's business rates relief arrangements

Web page of the Augustine Housing Trust
Web page of the Augustine Housing Trust

A charity that provides storage facilities has withdrawn its appeal to the charity tribunal against a statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission into its business rates relief arrangements.

The Augustine Housing Trust appealed against the inquiry in May.

But a ruling from the charity tribunal shows that the appeal was withdrawn on 1 October.

The ruling shows that the charity was told by the tribunal that it had until 5pm yesterday to provide the commission with a copy of its accounts for the year to July 2012, copies of trustee meeting minutes for the last two years and details of whether any trustees have benefited financially from the charity.

AHT gives assistance and offers storage to homeless people or those in danger of homelessness, and works with charities, other not-for-profit organisations and local councils. Its income for the year to 31 July 2011 was £22,942, during which time it had expenditure of £10. Its annual accounts for 2012 are almost a year and a half overdue.

The commission opened an inquiry into the charity on 12 March after it failed to respond to concerns raised with the trustees about AHT’s use of commercial premises and its liability to pay business rates on these.

The commission said AHT had also failed to produce independently examined accounts as per its legal obligation, and had not complied with an order from the commission to provide relevant documents and information.

The charity tribunal ruling, published last week, stipulated that AHT had to provide a copy of the charity’s policy on conflicts of interest and confirm whether the trustees sought professional advice before the charity entered into leases.

With his initial appeal against the inquiry, trustee Kevin Gregory – who is also a trustee of Legal Action, another charity facing an inquiry by the commission – made nine requests to the tribunal, including for the commission to remove its press release about the inquiry from its website and to apologise to the charity.

The requests were withdrawn in July, when Gregory told the tribunal he had been misinformed about the tribunal’s powers, according to the directions document.

The Charity Commission’s inquiry into London-based Legal Action, also known as Charles Henry, was opened in August amid concerns that the charity had been operating outside its objects, which are to provide legal facilities to people who could not otherwise afford them.

Neither AHT or Legal Action responded to a request for comment from Third Sector on Tuesday morning.

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