Four charities released from Charity Commission 'double defaulters' inquiry

The charities, including the Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham (pictured), have provided outstanding accounts after the regulator exercised its statutory powers

The Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham
The Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham

Four charities that failed to file annual documents for two or more years have been released from the Charity Commission’s ‘double defaulters’ inquiry.

The regulator announced today that Bradford Christian School, Crawley Islamic Centre and Mosque, Michael Davies Charitable Settlement and the Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham, have complied with their reporting obligations after the commission used statutory powers to order their trustees to provide the missing documents.

Reports on the inquiries into each of the four charities have been published by the commission on its website.

The "class inquiry" into double defaulting charities began on 20 September and included 12 charities with last-known annual incomes of more than £500,000 that had overdue accounts for at least two of the past five years. A further dozen charities with incomes of between £250,000 and £500,000 were added in November.

Most of the 24 charities have since been removed from the inquiry after they filed their outstanding documents, but eight remain in the inquiry after today’s announcement.

A report from the commission based on its inquiry into Crawley Islamic Centre says the charity provided its three sets of overdue documents either side of the new year. It says the trustees did not provide explicit reasons for failing to comply, although the charity mentioned the ill health of its accountant.

The Muslim Cultural Society of Birmingham filed its three sets of outstanding accounts and reports on 3 January and the corresponding annual returns on 7 January. The trustees said "serious ill health of the trustee primarily responsible for preparing the accounts had led to the failure to comply", alongside other trustees having health and family issues or being abroad, the report says.

The London-based trust fund the Michael Davies Charitable Settlement supplied its three sets of overdue documents within 15 days of becoming part of the inquiry, the regulator’s report says. The charity’s accountants accepted blame for the late documents, although a trustee apologised and said he was aware he had "final responsibility for the acts of the charity's accountants", the report says.

The fee-paying Bradford Christian School filed its two sets of required annual documents within eight days of being added to the inquiry in September, although audited versions of the accounts took a further month to be submitted, the commission’s report says. Trustees did not provide reasons for non-compliance, although trustees said they would "not allow the situation to happen again".

Over the past five years, the four charities’ annual documents have in total accrued 7,668 days of lateness – equivalent to just over 21 years.

Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement at the commission, said none of the various excuses given were legally valid.

"On occasion, a trustee may experience ill health, need to take a period of absence or encounter circumstances that mean they cannot carry out their role," she said. "The other trustees must make sure that they collectively continue to carry out their legal duties and ensure the charity continues to run effectively."

The inquiry will continue to the £250,000-plus income bracket, before moving on to investigate any other outstanding double defaulters, a spokeswoman for the commission said.

Eight charities remain in the inquiry: Achiezer, Achiezer Association Limited, African Families Support Services, Beighton Welfare Recreation Ground, Hadley Playing Fields and Recreation Ground, Jamiat-Ul-Muslemeen Quwat-Ul-Islam Masjed, Life Line Missions and the National Patients Support Trust.

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