The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to the charity Al-Fatiha Global – the aid charity that helped to organise the convoy with which the murdered volunteer Alan Henning travelled to Syria.
The commission has been monitoring the Worcester-based charity since 2013, initially because of concerns about its governance and financial management. In March, the charity was the subject of a story on the front page of The Sun newspaper, which published a picture that the paper said showed one of its volunteers posing with masked gunmen. Another volunteer told Third Sector the story in The Sun story was a "scandalous farce".
The commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity later that month, which it said would look into the charity’s accounts and the allegations made by The Sun.
The commission announced today that Michael King, a consultant and former chair of the law firm Stone King, had been appointed by the regulator as interim manager of the charity.
A statement from the regulator said the appointment was not made to the exclusion of the trustees: "This means that the interim manager will work alongside the trustees, who remain in place and continue to have the full powers, legal duties and responsibilities of trustees."
King is tasked with appointing new trustees to the charity so it can be quorate – since May, at least, it has had only two trustees. He will also put in place new policies on its overseas work, in particular how it engages with partners on overseas operations, the commission statement said.
In June, one of the two trustees of Al-Fatiha lodged an appeal with the charity tribunal against the opening of the statutory inquiry. Although a hearing had been scheduled for November or December, the appeal was withdrawn in October.
In the calendar year 2013, the charity had an income of £1.2m – having had an income of less than £10,000 for each of the four previous years, its accounts for the year say.
The charity’s annual report says it has "grown beyond our expectations over the past 12 months", and lists details of three aid convoys to Syria during the year and how it had attempted to mitigate the risks involved with this.
As of November, the commission had 37 open cases involving charities that work in Syria – four of these, including the Al-Fatiha case, are statutory inquiries.