Apologise to the charity's staff and service users, Kids Company founder urges Michael Gove

Camila Batmanghelidjh says the Cabinet Office minister was among those who did not take responsibility for supporting the charity, which collapsed in 2015

Camila Batmanghelidjh has called on the Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to apologise to the charity’s former staff and service users for what she said were unfulfilled promises to support the collapsed charity Kids Company. 

The founder and former chief executive of the charity was being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 during Woman’s Hour about the High Court verdict earlier this month and whether she had any regrets about her role at the charity.

The disqualification proceedings brought against Batmanghelidjh and a group of former trustees were dismissed earlier this month after a 10-week trial at the end of last year.

In the interview, Batmanghelidjh accused Gove of being “really  disingenuous”.  

She said: “By 2015 he was saying he never wanted Kids Company funded and I find it very difficult when people change colours.

“I can live without Michael Gove’s apology but the staff and the children are owed an apology from Michael Gove, [former Cabinet Office minister] Oliver Letwin, all these people who promised that they were going to help us resolve the fact that children were pouring in through our doors. 

“The reason I clashed with the Cabinet Office was because I realised they were not taking responsibility.”

Batmanghelidjh also accused Dominic Cummings, the Vote Leave director who was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser until December, of running a “smear campaign”.

She said: “I personally think it was a smear campaign and I think there were two targets.”

She said one of those was the former Prime Minister David Cameron, who had supported Kids Company as part of his big society agenda. 

“And I think another bit was campaigning for child protection issues and I think the country has no capacity to address its child protection problems.

“We got sandwiched between these two concerns and that was why there was such a ferocious attack on us.”

Batmanghelidjh also hit out at parts of the media in what she described as immature journalists probably acting on behalf of their political masters.

She was also critical of the BBC Newsnight report launched in 2015 that led to an investigation by police following allegations of sexual exploitation at two of its sites.

The allegations were later revealed to be unfounded and the High Court found in its ruling that the charity might have survived if those allegations had not been made.

In the interview, Batmanghelidjh accused the media of abusing its position and revealed she would run the charity in the same way if she had the chance to do it all over again.

Asked if she had any regrets she said: “I underestimated the political games that get played and other people’s envy.

“When you set up a charity, you’re inexperienced and you learn as you go, and I'm sure we would have learned more, we didn't do it perfectly but that's the reality, I think we were getting better because we were learning from the children.”

Asked to comment, a government spokesperson said: "The problems surrounding Kids Company that led to its closure have been well documented.

The spokesperson said: “This government is committed to levelling up outcomes for every young person, no matter their background or circumstance."

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