Former Kids Company trustees will 'robustly defend' disqualification proceedings

The Insolvency Service wants to ban eight former trustees, including Alan Yentob and Richard Handover, and former chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh, from running companies

Kids Company: closed abruptly in 2015
Kids Company: closed abruptly in 2015

The former trustees of the collapsed charity Kids Company have said they will "robustly defend" the disqualification proceedings that are being brought against them.

The Insolvency Service said last month that it was seeking bans on the eight former trustees and Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and former chief executive of Kids Company, after the charity closed abruptly in August 2015 amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

The former directors include Alan Yentob, former creative director at the BBC, and Richard Handover, former chief executive of the retailer WHSmith.

If the proceedings are successful, the nine could receive bans from running or controlling companies for between two-and-a-half and six years, the Insolvency Service said last month.

A statement issued by the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite on behalf of the former trustees this week said they "wholly reject" the allegation that they were running an unsustainable business model at Kids Company and the decision to bring disqualification proceedings was "both unjust and unprecedented".

The statement said Kids Company operated successfully for more than 18 years.

"The former trustees believe that they acted diligently and responsibly in the most difficult circumstances and by July 2015 had succeeded in delivering an entirely feasible restructuring and financial plan for the charity, which had the support of both the government and a committed group of generous benefactors," the statement said.

"The successful implementation of that plan, and the survival of the charity, was made impossible only because of malicious allegations to the Metropolitan Police who, after six months of extensive enquiries, found no evidence to justify any prosecution."

A report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which was published in February last year, raised concerns about the trustees’ ignoring of repeated warnings about the charity’s financial health, the suitability of its programmes and the behaviour of staff members.

It said trustees’ "negligent financial management" rendered the charity unable to survive when allegations of sexual abuse made shortly before the charity closed caused several philanthropists to withdraw donations they had pledged. The police investigation found no evidence of abuse at the charity.

The statement from the trustees said: "The former trustees are extremely proud of the outcomes the charity achieved over many years on behalf of vulnerable children and young people who were either rejected or ignored by a social care system too often in denial or in crisis."

A spokesman for the Insolvency Service declined to comment.

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