Commission challenge to tribunal appeal by trustees of CharityGiving website

Former trustee of the charity that runs the suspended online giving platform CharityGiving raises objections to the bank account restrictions and appointment of an interim manager

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has asked the charity tribunal to strike out appeals by a former trustee of the Dove Trust, the charity that runs the suspended online giving platform CharityGiving, against the commission’s enforcement action in the case.

In June 2013, the commission placed restrictions on the bank accounts of the charity and appointed Pesh Framjee, head of not-for-profit at the accountancy firm Crowe Clark Whitehill, as interim manager to take over its running, due to concerns over its trustworthiness, governance and financial management.

Framjee decided to suspend the website in order to protect funds raised by the public. The trust owes £1.7m to a total of 1,800 charities and good causes.

At the start of this year, appeals to the charity tribunal were lodged by Keith Colman, the founder and previously a trustee of the charity, against the bank account restrictions and the appointment of an interim manager. Colman had resigned as a trustee of the charity in 2013 after the commission began the process of removing him, the regulator said last year.

In May, Colman was replaced as the appellant by Donna Naghshineh, another former trustee of the charity, and the former Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, who was until recently its only remaining trustee. Naghshineh has since withdrawn from the appeals.

According to a tribunal directions document published last week, the commission has now applied for the appeals to be struck out "on the basis that they have no reasonable prospect of success". Gunn was directed to respond to the commission’s proposal by 10 November.

Colman has been appointed by Gunn as his non-legal representative in the tribunal. Another ruling issued in this case a few days beforehand also barred Colman from rejoining the appeal as an appellant.

Alison McKenna, the tribunal’s principal judge, said his legal relationship to the commission’s order had not changed. "I have no hesitation in refusing Mr Colman’s application," she said in the decision.

Pending the decision to strike it out, a full hearing in the case is scheduled to last for five days from 8 December.

Separately, Gunn has lodged an appeal with the tribunal against his removal as a trustee of the charity. Gunn was removed by an order of the commission on 23 September and lodged an appeal within the past week. The commission has until 1 December to respond. After Gunn’s removal, no trustees of the charity are listed on its entry in the commission’s register of charities.

Independently from the charity tribunal process, in July the High Court, which had been asked by the commission to rule on how to distribute the remaining money held by the trust, said charities should be given about a third of what they were owed.

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