Attorney General wins right to appeal Charity Commission for Northern Ireland decision

The CCNI had removed a trustee from a charity for disabled police officers, which was upheld by the charity tribunal, but now the Attorney General for Northern Ireland has won the right to appeal

The Attorney General for Northern Ireland has won the right to appeal against a decision to uphold the removal by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland of a trustee from a charity for disabled police officers.

The CCNI removed Robert Crawford from the board of the Disabled Police Officers' Association of Northern Ireland in January 2015, 11 months after opening a statutory inquiry into the charity that focused on its governance and financial arrangements.

Crawford appealed to the Northern Ireland charity tribunal, but his appeal was rejected at a hearing in October 2015.

But John Larkin, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, used his powers under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 to intervene, and this week the High Court granted him leave to appeal against the decision.

Larkin argued the tribunal had been wrong to conclude Crawford’s removal was necessary to protect the charity and had "offered no satisfactory basis or reasoning" for its conclusions nor explained what Crawford had done that amounted to misconduct or mismanagement.

The judgment says the CCNI felt aggrieved that Larkin had stepped in.

It says: "It has complained that at least some of grounds of the appeal are appeals on the facts and are not on points of law.

"Furthermore, the attorney general has appealed, when he is largely ignorant of much of the evidence adduced before the tribunal and which frames the tribunal's decision."

The judgment says appeals against the tribunal in Northern Ireland are "very much in their infancy" but Larkin’s appeal raises issues of wider importance, including how a decision should be recorded.

It says it is important these decisions set out "in an unambiguous fashion the findings of the facts" and provide intelligible reasons.

The judgment says a date will be set for the appeal to be heard.

The CCNI has concluded its investigation into the charity, and in March it published a preliminary report saying it was satisfied that all issues at the charity had now been resolved. The regulator said it would not publish a full report until the ongoing appeals had been concluded.

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