Labour's Paul Flynn says Kids Company report could have been 'more nuanced' on trustees

But despite reports in The Guardian, he stands by the select committee report that criticised the now defunct charity and argues it should have been stronger on ministerial responsibility

Paul Flynn MP
Paul Flynn MP

Paul Flynn, a member of the parliamentary committee that recently produced a damning report on the collapse of Kids Company, has said the report should have been more nuanced in its treatment of trustees.

But the Labour MP for Newport West also said he felt the report, from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, should have been harsher in its criticism of Alan Yentob, the charity’s former chair, Prime Minister David Cameron and Oliver Letwin and Matthew Hancock, the Cabinet Office ministers who signed off the final grants to the struggling charity against the advice of senior civil servants.

Flynn's comments were made after a report appeared on The Guardian newspaper's website this morning that said Flynn had had a "change of heart" once the report was published last month. It concluded that the negligence of trustees had led to the downfall of the charity, which closed abruptly in August.

Flynn told Third Sector he stood by the report, which he described as very valuable, but said it should have recognised that some trustees had expressed concerns.

He said: "All I was talking about was members of the board who had internally criticised the organisation and tried to reform it – I think we gave a blanket criticism that wasn’t justified.

"In the case of Kids Company, the trustees failed – but I’m not saying, as we did in the report, that all the trustees failed. There were some who tried to make changes.

"But certainly the chair was there for far too long and was far too close to the chief executive."

The Guardian article quoted Yentob, who was forced to resign his position as creative director at the BBC after the charity collapsed, as saying he welcomed Flynn’s admission "that the select committee’s accusation of negligence was rash".

But Flynn told Third Sector: "Alan Yentob is exercising his creative powers to distort the meaning of what I said.

"Our criticism of the chair of the trustees is absolutely 100 per cent copper-bottomed accurate and justified.

"In fact, my criticism goes a lot further than the committee’s – Yentob has gained absolution by resignation and there should have been a proper investigation."

Flynn said he wished the report had been stronger in some elements of its coverage. "I wanted to go much further than the committee," he said.

"We’ve left out Cameron, who was key here – the hug of Cameron, his attitude of ‘money no object; carry on and indulge yourself with public money in a completely irresponsible way’ toward the charity did grave damage here.

"The two ministers who authorised the two payments of £3m should be reported to the adviser on ministerial conduct."

The Guardian article was sparked by a comment Flynn made on Twitter in response to a blog post by Andrew Purkis, a former Charity Commission board member, who had argued that the PACAC report on charity fundraising, published last month, failed to take into account the complexity of the trustee role.

Flynn tweeted: "Very powerful arguments. Since the report was published I have met a KC trustee. Agree. We rushed to judgment."

He said he would be writing to The Guardian to make his position clear. 

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