MS Society overstepped its constitution, Charity Commission rules

But the regulator says the MS Society of Great Britiain and Northern Ireland had acted "in good faith" in suspending the Scottish national council

Multiple Sclerosis Society
Multiple Sclerosis Society
The MS Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland overstepped its constitution in suspending the body that oversaw the MS Society Scotland, the Charity Commission has ruled.

However, in a regulatory case report, published by the commission yesterday, the regulator found that trustees had acted in good faith amid a long-running dispute between the two bodies after obtaining legal advice.

The commission received a complaint that the society had not followed the correct procedures in withdrawing the powers of, and then reconstituting, the Scottish national council, which ran the charity's operations in Scotland.

The complaint came after the author JK Rowling resigned as patron of the Scottish society, citing "a long-standing and escalating conflict between the Scottish council and management in London, driven by the imposition of changes by London".

The regulator found that neither the society's constitution, nor the Scottish constitution, gave trustees the power to withdraw authority from a national council. It added: "The decisions to suspend and withdraw the powers of the council had potentially serious consequences."

However, it found that trustees had "received specialist legal advice that they had an implicit power to suspend or withdraw the council's powers".

At the society's annual general meeting in September, members voted in favour of a new constitution that better outlined the roles and limits of power placed on trustees, councils and members. The commission concluded it need not take any further action.

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