St John Ambulance disciplined volunteers who objected to restructure, says report

An operational compliance case of the Charity Commission found, however, no evidence to suggest proper procedures had not been followed and there was no cause for concern

St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance

The first-aid charity St John Ambulance took disciplinary action against some volunteers who had objected to its restructuring proposals, according to a report from the Charity Commission.

An operational compliance case report from the regulator on the charity The Priory of England and the Islands, of which St John Ambulance is a subsidiary, says the commission got involved in May after St John implemented a restructure between 2009 and 2013 that included changes to the charity’s governance.

The report says that the plans, which were explained in advance to the commission, "proved controversial with some members and a number of allegations were made to the commission about how the changes were implemented and their effect on St John".

As a result of this dispute, the report says, "a small number of members were subject to disciplinary proceedings". The charity separately confirmed 10 people were disciplined.

The report says that the regulator cannot become involved in the administration of a charity but, because it had received complaints, it decided to examine whether the restructuring decisions were taken properly and whether the new governance structures were legal.

The report says the commission met senior figures from the charity and reviewed its governing documents and correspondence about the changes, including complaints from members.

The commission found that there was no evidence to suggest the charity’s procedures had not been followed and the governance changes did not raise any cause for concern.

"It is regrettable when disciplinary proceedings have to be brought against volunteers and we recognise that the events brought considerable distress to those involved," the report says.

"We did not see anything to suggest that the charity acted in a way that would bring the charity into disrepute such that the commission should become involved in these matters."

Sue Killen, chief executive of St John Ambulance, said: "We welcome the Charity Commission’s conclusion and their endorsement of our change programme. Our focus is always to ensure that we are as effective as possible, so that even more people are equipped to be the difference between life and death, and so we can make a stronger impact in communities."

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