Wildlife charity cleared of wrongdoing by Charity Commission

Wildlife Aid appointed a trustee's relative without an open and fair recruitment process, but the conflict of interest is 'appropriately managed'

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

A wildlife charity investigated by the Charity Commission for employing a relative of one of its founding trustees has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

A report from the regulator said it had received confirmation from the trustees of Wildlife Aid that the "conflict of interest arising from the family member’s employment is appropriately managed".

The report said that confirmation was also received from Wildlife Aid trustees that the employment of the relative was "in the best interests of the charity" and that an increase in the person's salary reflected a "change from part-time to full-time employment".

Nevertheless, the commission concluded that the family member had "not been appointed as a result of an open and fair recruitment process".

According to the regulator, the charity’s trustees deemed such a process unnecessary when appointing a family member to a vacant post. The commission reminded trustees that, although not a legal requirement, "it is best practice for charities to conduct an open and fair recruitment process when making a new appointment".

Neither the trustee nor the family member were named by the commission.

The regulator also looked into the charity’s relationship with the production company that is responsible for the TV programme Wildlife SOS, screened on the cable station Animal Planet and Five.

The commission asked the charity if it had considered charging the production company in return for filming its activities for the programme, which the charity did not do.

But the trustees said it was their firm belief that the charity’s relatively high public profile and name recognition derived "entirely from the television series", which is "absolutely critical to securing and preserving the charity’s principal income stream".

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