Afghan Heroes 'not viable or sustainable' in present form, interim manager says

But Brian Johnson of the accountancy firm HW Fisher & Company says the veterans charity, the subject of a Charity Commission inquiry, will not necessarily be closed down

Afghan Heroes
Afghan Heroes

The veterans charity Afghan Heroes, the subject of a Charity Commission statutory inquiry, is "not viable or sustainable" in its present form, but will not necessarily be closed down, according to its interim manager.

Brian Johnson, a partner of the accountancy firm HW Fisher & Company, was appointed to the role by the commission in February after the regulator opened a statutory inquiry into the charity in November. The charity had an income of £548,440 in 2012, but spent only £15,200 on charitable activities, its accounts show. 

A highly critical Public Accounts Committee report on the Charity Commission, published in the same week as Johnson’s appointment, said the handling of Afghan Heroes was evidence that "the commission's internal processes and investigations are slow and inefficient".

Johnson recently sent a letter to volunteers at the charity – the text of which was also posted on the charity’s website – saying the charity was "no longer a viable concern". Yesterday, a number of local and national media outlets that had seen the letter reported that the charity would therefore close.

Johnson told Third Sector he regretted the confusion that had arisen as a result of these letters, and said in a further statement: "No decision has been taken to close the charity, although I have concluded that the charity’s operations are not viable or sustainable in their present form and have begun winding these down to reduce costs.

"Whilst this is being done, the care and assistance provided to and the future of the charity’s beneficiaries will remain paramount."

Johnson said the charity’s financial position "will become clearer once the process of reducing the charity’s operations has been accomplished", and that once he had drawn up a plan for the charity’s future, it would be considered by the Charity Commission.

A spokeswoman for the commission said the inquiry was continuing and that no decision had yet been taken about the charity's future. "The interim manager took the step of issuing an initial statement last week before consulting us," she said. " This caused confusion. We concur with the interim manager's most recent statement, which makes it clear that no decision has yet been taken regarding the charity's future."

Tony Hall, who previously volunteered for four days a week as a fundraiser for Afghan Heroes, and is quoted in news stories in various media about Johnson’s letter, has since started volunteering for another veterans charity.

Hall is now with Army of Angels, which is also under Charity Commission scrutiny because of concerns about its funds and fundraising arrangements, as Third Sector reported last month. A spokeswoman for the commission said today that it remained in contact with the charity on the matter.

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