Charity tribunal dismisses appeal against Charity Commission decision

Tribunal judge Alison McKenna says it cannot review the complaint against the regulator about an exempt educational charity in Lincolnshire

Alison McKenna
Alison McKenna

The charity tribunal has struck out an appeal against the Charity Commission’s refusal to remove the trustees of an exempt educational charity.

Tribunal judge Alison McKenna struck out Iain Stowe’s appeal this week after ruling that the tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to review his complaint about the West Deeping Church of England School Foundation, which ran a Church of England school in the Lincolnshire village of West Deeping between 1899 and 1971.

The charity has been at the centre of a dispute about the use of one of its buildings, which some residents would like to see donated to them for use as a village hall.  

On 22 April, Stowe sent a letter of complaint about the charity and a 150-page dossier of evidence to the Charity Commission, asking the regulator to remove the charity’s trustees, the tribunal judgment says. The ruling does not say why he wanted the trustees removed.

The commission rejected Stowe’s complaint on 23 April, saying it did not believe that there were grounds for it to remove the charity’s trustees. "We are aware of issues associated with this charity and we are working with the trustees to find an appropriate solution," the commission’s response said.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the regulator had been in discussion with the charity’s trustees and local residents since 2012, after the regulator refused to allow the charity to gift a school building it owned to the community for use as a village hall.

Stowe then appealed to the charity tribunal and asked the tribunal to review his original complaint to the commission.

But the tribunal ruled that the appeal was outside its jurisdiction because it did not fall within a defined list of commission decisions that the tribunal can review.

"I conclude that the tribunal must reject Mr Stowe’s notice of appeal as one falling outside its remit," said the ruling from McKenna on 17 June.

The spokeswoman for the commission said: "We are often asked to intervene in disputes between trustees and third parties who disagree with the way trustees run their charity. However, we are under a public duty to use our resources in a proportionate way and we will intervene in the trustees’ exercise of their powers only in the most serious cases." 

Stowe declined to comment. Third Sector was unable to contact anybody from the West Deeping Church of England School Foundation.

Abi Rimmer recommends

Charity tribunal

Read more

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in