Albert Hall governance row referred to Attorney-General

The Charity Commission has asked Jeremy Wright QC to intervene after trying for several years to persuade the hall to change its constitution

Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall

The Charity Commission has asked the Attorney-General, Jeremy Wright QC, for permission to refer the question of the governance of the Royal Albert Hall to the Charity Tribunal.

The commission has been trying for several years to persuade the hall to change its constitution so that its trustee body no longer has a majority of people who own seats in the hall and can sell tickets privately at inflated prices.

Nineteen of the 24 members of the hall’s ruling council are seatholders, and the commission has told the hall it thinks there is potential for them to prefer their own interests to those of the charity.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s Office confirmed on Thursday that the commission had submitted an application for permission to take a case to the tribunal. A spokesman for the commission declined to give any details.

One experienced charity lawyer, who asked not to be named, pointed out that the commission has limited powers to enforce changes in charities, such as the hall, which have constitutions laid out in acts of parliament. Before it can impose a scheme for change it has to persuade a court that the charity itself should have applied for a scheme itself but has unreasonably refused to do so.

Charity law also says that the Attorney-General can refer a case to the tribunal about "the application of charity law to a specific state of affairs".

The lawyer said: "This is famously just about the longest-running compliance case the commission has dealt with. It’s not surprising that it has reached the end of its tether and taken the first steps towards enforcement action."

News of the commission’s move has emerged on the day of the hall’s most prestigious annual event, the Last Night of the Proms. A spokeswoman for the hall said: "We have no comment at all to make."

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