Charity Commission investigates claims about Albert Hall trustees

Two board members are said to be profiting by £100,000 a year from the sale of their tickets for the venue

Royal Albert Hall, London
Royal Albert Hall, London

The Charity Commission will meet board members from the Royal Albert Hall to discuss claims that two trustees and their families made more than £100,000 a year by selling their tickets for events at the venue.

A story in today’s Times newspaper says Leon Baroukh and Richard Waterbury, who are trustees of the Royal Albert Hall, hold debenture seats at the venue. These seats are held on 999-year leases. Both are quoted in the article and admit to having sold their tickets.

The report says Baroukh and Waterbury sold their tickets through agents for a Teenage Cancer Trust event, to be held tonight. It says they and their families make more than £100,000 a year by selling their debenture seat tickets. A spokeswoman for the Royal Albert Hall said she could not confirm or deny the accuracy of the figure but the charity would issue a statement "in due course".

A spokeswoman for the commission confirmed that the regulator "will be meeting the trustees again soon to discuss the issue further". In a statement, she said: "We are aware that some trustees continue to benefit financially as a result of their membership rights."

In January the Charity Commission warned that any private benefit from the sale of the tickets must be "incidental" to the work of the charity. It said the Royal Albert Hall had put in place plans to address the issue and the regulator would "monitor the charity’s progress in implementing these plans".

The Teenage Cancer Trust issued a statement that said it was concerned about the practice of selling debenture seat tickets. "We believe the only people entitled to profit from our event are young people with cancer," it said.

"An incredible amount of hard work and good will goes into organising concerts for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall, and this includes the artists who all give their time for free. The Teenage Cancer Trust strongly believes it is wrong for individuals to hijack these efforts and personally profit by selling tickets on the secondary market."

Peta Travis, the president of the council at the Royal Albert Hall, said in a statement: "Trustees of the Royal Albert Hall should at all times act with integrity and avoid personal conflicts of interest. They should avoid any activities that might place the charity’s reputation at undue risk. I am undertaking a thorough review of how council trustees should deal with their seat allocation and am in urgent discussion with council members". 

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