African Aids Action pledges to contest allegations in leaked report

Charity Commission says document is an early draft with no authority

The chair of African Aids Action has pledged to challenge allegations about the charity in a draft Charity Commission report if the commission decides to include them in the final version of the report.

The draft was sent anonymously to Third Sector last week in a Charity Commission envelope. A commission spokeswoman said it took breaches of procedure seriously and was looking into how the information was leaked.

The draft contains a number of allegations about financial controls at the charity and the conduct of Eyob Ghebre-Sellassie, the chair and founder of the charity.

He told Third Sector the allegations in the draft were unjustified and that some of them had never been put to him during the inquiry, which closed in November. "They twist everything and pick on any typing error," he said.

He speculated that the draft report had been leaked by someone within the commission to put unsubstantiated allegations into the public domain and undermine the charity's reputation. "If it is printed, our work will be destroyed," he said.

The charity, founded and registered in 2001, plans to raise £330m to build a pharmaceutical plant in Africa to produce cheap Aids drugs. Its objects are the relief of the suffering of people with HIV/Aids, particularly in Africa and the Caribbean.

The commission spokeswoman said the report was an early draft "without any authority" and that it was not the version of the report that the charity's trustees would have in due course received to comment on before publication. She declined to comment on its contents.

This latest development follows an appeal by the charity to the charity tribunal last year against the regulator's refusal to lift an order preventing payments from its bank account.

The order was lifted before the tribunal hearing. Judge Peter Hinchcliffe dismissed the appeal, but he said the order had prevented the charity from obtaining legal advice.

He also said the lifting of the order had taken the matter out of the tribunal's hands after the appeal had already been lodged.

Ghebre-Sellassie told Third Sector he had applied for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal against the dismissal of the case.

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