Charity in the clear after trustee gets life in paedophile case

The Charity Commission has cleared a Christian counselling charity of any misconduct after one of its former trustees was sentenced to life imprisonment for paedophilia.

The Commission ruled that Churches Counselling Together, a small charity based in the New Forest, had not put its beneficiaries at risk during the time that church minister Simon Thomas served on its board. Thomas received a life sentence in July 2006 for sexual offences against children.

“The Commission found that the charity had adequate policies and measures in place including ensuring that all volunteers with access to the charity’s beneficiaries were subject to CRB checks,” the Commission said in an inquiry report published on Monday.

However, Commission investigators did advise Churches Counselling Together that it should have considered the impact on its reputation of its association with Thomas. The charity’s board accepted Thomas’s resignation in August 2005 after he revealed he had been suspended as a church minister due to allegations made against him. The board did not probe Thomas as to the nature of the allegations.

“The trustees accepted that making such inquiries and considering such matters would have been appropriate,” the report concluded.

Nobody from Churches Counselling Together was available for comment.

The inquiry is the second the Commission has made into charities involving Thomas. It last month cleared Southampton-based parenting charity Families Matter of exposing its beneficiaries to risk after it failed to suspend Thomas immediately after learning of his suspension from the church.

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