Kids Company employed two of the children of its vice-chair Richard Handover before the children’s charity closed last week, according to newspaper reports.
The Daily Mail reported today that Sasha and Jamie Handover were both on the payroll at Kids Company where their father, the former chief executive of the retailer WH Smith, has been a board member since 2005. Handover was also appointed chair of Power to Change, a £150m Big Lottery Fund grants programme, last year.
The charity's 2013 accounts stated that two children of a trustee were employed, but did not name them. A spokesman for the charity did not dispute the names quoted by the Mail.
The accounts state that "one child of a trustee was employed by or contracted to the charity during the year remunerated at £32,571 (2012 – £27,278). Another child of a trustee was employed by or contracted to the charity during the year remunerated at £17,124 (2012 – £8,597). The decision to engage these individuals was taken without the involvement of the trustees in the best interests of the charity."
The Mail reported that Sasha – whose real name is Alexandra – earned the higher salary for working as a music co-ordinator and events organiser, while it said Jamie was believed to have earned £17,124 for his involvement in sports training for children at the charity’s London Treehouse centre.
According to herLinkedIn profile, she joined the charity in June 2009.
A spokesman for Kids Company told the Mail: "Sasha has worked damn hard. I don’t understand the difficulty with that. It was not a secret and it was not nepotism. She has done a proper day’s work and contributed a great deal. They applied for jobs and they were given jobs."
He also said that she had gone "above what could be expected" and "saved some lives in really tragic cases".
The Charity Commission’s guidance on conflicts of interest state that such conflicts usually arise when "there is a potential financial or measurable benefit directly to a trustee, or indirectly through a connected person". It says that trustees must not allow such conflicts to affect their decision-making and should disclose benefits received by trustees – including payments to "connected persons" such as relatives – in their annual accounts.
Yesterday it was reported that the Charity Commission was looking into claims that charitable funds were used to pay for the daughter of Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh’s chauffeur to attend Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire. Handover is the school’s chair of governors.