Charity Commission removed last Afghan Heroes trustees last year

The regulator has been running a statutory inquiry into the military charity since 2013, when concerns were raised about management and administration

The Charity Commission has confirmed that last year it removed the two remaining trustees of the military charity Afghan Heroes, which has been the subject of a long statutory inquiry.

The commission opened an inquiry into the charity in 2013 after concerns were raised about the management and administration of the charity, and used its legal powers to restrict the charity’s bank accounts.

 A Charity Commission statement at the time said it was specifically investigating the potential risk to, or loss of, the charity’s funds or other property, conflicts of interest and unauthorised trustee benefits, whether there was mismanagement or misconduct on the part of the trustees and whether the trustees had discharged their legal duties.

An interim manager, Brian Johnson, was placed in charge of the charity by the commission in March 2014 and suspended Afghan Heroes’ fundraising efforts.

In a statement on the progress of the case, the Charity Commission said it removed two trustees on 24 February 2015 and that both had been disqualified.

According to the charity’s details at Companies House, Andrew Harris and Denise Harris both resigned as trustees on 24 February 2015.

The Charity Commission statement said it would not provide details on why the two trustees had been removed while the inquiry was continuing.

Three of the charity’s trustees resigned on 20 December 2013, after commission’s inquiry began.

A patron of the charity, Liam Fox, now the Secretary of State for International Trade but at the time a backbencher, also stepped down from his role at the organisation at about the same time.

The commission’s latest statement noted the publication of the charity’s accounts for the year to 31 December 2015, which provide further details about the interim manager’s actions since his appointment.

The accounts show that the charity had an income of £54,567 in 2015, compared with £281,165 the year before, and that £370 was spent on charitable activities, compared with £39,284 in 2014. Other costs of £68,787 were incurred in 2015, compared with £515,466 the year before.

The charity’s deficit was therefore £10,617 in 2015, compared with £273,585 the previous year.

The accounts show that the charity has submitted a claim against a professional fundraiser, Prize Promotions Limited, after the discovery of "certain deficiencies" in the contractual relationship it had with Afghan Heroes.

PPL was placed in liquidation on 18 December 2015. The accounts say that the prospect of any recovery from the liquidation "is currently uncertain".

The accounts show that the charity lent "significant funds" to its subsidiaries on an unsecured basis and was due £280,496 from a subsidiary company called True Heroes Retreat Limited.

The accounts say that the charity does not anticipate that it will recover the sum. True Heroes Retreat, which ran a retreat for veterans, has been sold and is being wound up, the accounts say.

The charity’s two other subsidiaries, True Heroes Limited and The Smuggled Retreat Limited, were dissolved on 17 February 2015 and 10 February 2015 respectively.

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