Don't become a trustee until the Kids Company case is resolved, says Batmanghelidjh

In a wide-ranging interview with Third Sector, the founder of the now defunct charity says the case being brought against her and the former trustees could set a dangerous precedent

Camila Batmanghelidjh
Camila Batmanghelidjh

People should not become trustees until the Insolvency Service and the Charity Commission have completed their investigations into Kids Company, the charity’s founder Camila Batmanghelidjh has said.

In an exclusive interview with Third Sector before the publication of her book tomorrow, Batmanghelidjh, who was chief executive of the charity, said she believed that she and the trustees of Kids Company had been treated badly and the case being brought against them could set a dangerous precedent.

In July, the Insolvency Service said that it had started proceedings against eight former directors of the now defunct charity, and against Batmanghelidjh.

Batmanghelidjh was not a director of the charity, but the Insolvency Service has alleged that she acted as a "de-facto director".

If the proceedings are successful, the nine could receive bans from running or controlling companies for between two-and-a-half and six years, the Insolvency Service said.

The eight directors were also trustees of the charity and could face action under charity law.

The former directors include Alan Yentob, former creative director at the BBC, and Richard Handover, former chief executive of the retailer WHSmith.

Kids Company folded in the summer of 2015 amid allegations that government grants were spent on expensive luxuries such as a chauffeur and five-star hotel breaks for the young people it supported. The charity also faced a police investigation into allegations of child abuse that were later dropped.

Batmanghelidjh maintains that the allegations levelled against her and the charity were false or taken out of context.

In a wide-ranging interview with Third Sector, Batmanghelidjh said: "If this situation is sustained, then I would advise people not to become trustees. These were people at the tops of their professions. What did they have to gain from working with a street charity? I would say don’t be a trustee until you find out what happens with Kids Company."

Batmanghelidjh said she expected the Charity Commission’s investigation to conclude that she was mainly at fault.

"The commission will want to put all of the blame on me because it wants to protect the trusteeship situation," she said, referring to the fact that potential trustees could be deterred from serving on boards if they felt they could face strong regulatory action when things went wrong.

She said she feared the commission was basing its investigation on flawed evidence. "They seem to be investigating the material generated from the malice-makers," she told Third Sector. "When I asked them to investigate the people who brought them the material, they said that it’s not within their remit. I’m worried about fairness and how it’s being presented."

The commission declined to comment on its continuing investigation into the charity.

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