The former trustees of the collapsed charity Kids Company have said they will vigorously defend themselves against any disqualification proceedings brought by the Insolvency Service.
The seven trustees, including Alan Yentob, the former creative director of the BBC who chaired Kids Company for 18 years, issued a statement last night addressing what they described as unconfirmed reports that the regulator might recommend that proceedings are taken to disqualify them as company directors.
The statement said that at all times the trustees had the interests of the children and young people in their care as their primary concern.
It said they gave "significant amounts of our personal time and money to that end", took professional advice on legal and financial matters and were required by funders to undergo "regular, stringent scrutiny and validation by external independent parties, including auditors".
The statement said: "It is deeply regrettable that the charity was forced to close following the instigation of a Metropolitan Police investigation of allegations that subsequently were found to be unfounded.
"There is no suggestion that we acted dishonestly or in bad faith. As far as we are aware, there has never been a case where trustees of a charity have been disqualified by a court in circumstances such as these.
"We acted diligently throughout and, if any proceedings are brought, will defend ourselves vigorously."
The statement concluded that what happens to the trustees could have "serious implications for the thousands of other trustees who want to do charitable work in this country", although it did not specify what those implications could be.
The statement, which was issued by the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, was from the charity’s former trustees: Sunetra Atkinson, Erica Bolton, Richard Handover, Francesca Robinson, Jane Tyler, Andrew Webster and Yentob.
Kids Company closed abruptly in 2015 amid allegations of financial mismanagement.
The charity was founded in 1996 by Camila Batmanghelidjh, who was its chief executive until it closed. It provided support for vulnerable inner-city children, young people and families. It had 580 staff at the time it closed.
A report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on the collapse of the charity said it closed because of an "extraordinary catalogue of failures", with the ultimate responsibility resting with the charity’s "negligent" trustees.
The committee concluded that trustees ignored repeated warnings about the charity’s financial health, failed to provide robust evidence of the charity’s outcomes and did not adequately address increasing concerns about the behaviour of its staff and the suitability of its programmes.
At the time, trustees criticised the report as "inaccurate, unbalanced and irresponsible", saying the committee would have received defamation claims had it not been protected by parliamentary privilege.
A Charity Commission investigation into the charity is ongoing.