Former PM adviser says Camila Batmanghelidjh was the victim of a 'conspiracy'

Steve Hilton, an adviser to David Cameron when he was in Downing Street, tells The Sunday Times that the Kids Company founder was a 'poster child for the big society' and as such was attacked by the civil service and the media

Steve Hilton
Steve Hilton

Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder and former chief executive of Kids Company, became a victim of attacks on the big society agenda that ultimately led to the closure of the charity, according to a former Number 10 adviser.

Steve Hilton, who was an adviser to David Cameron when he was Prime Minister and who is credited with coming up with the big society agenda, made the comments as part of an interview with Batmanghelidjh [subscription required], published in The Sunday Times newspaper yesterday.

Hilton said he felt that Batmanghelidjh had been treated unfairly by sections of the civil service and the media, which contributed to the charity’s demise.

"She was seen as a poster child for the big society," he said. "And that was a conscious decision on our part. As a result, she became a victim of attacks on the big society from the civil service and the media.

"I do think there was a conspiracy. Not an organised one, but among parts of the establishment that she threatened."

In the article, Batmanghelidjh reiterated her view that there was conspiracy to bring her down and refused to take any blame for the charity’s demise.

She said she would not apologise for spending the charity’s money on "buying the kids nice things".

"You can’t have a consumer society driven by brands and say that these children can’t have it," she said. "In the ghetto, they rely on material goods for self-esteem."

Kids Company closed abruptly in 2015 amid allegations of financial mismanagement.

A report by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which was published in February last year, raised concerns about the trustees’ ignoring of repeated warnings about the charity’s financial health, the suitability of its programmes and the behaviour of staff members.

It said trustees’ "negligent financial management" rendered the charity unable to survive when allegations of sexual abuse made last August caused several philanthropists to withdraw donations they had pledged.

A Metropolitan Police Service investigation found no evidence of abuse at the charity.

The Insolvency Service is pursuing disqualification proceedings against Batmanghelidjh and the former trustees of Kids Company.

The trustees issued a statement earlier this month that said they "wholly rejected" the allegation that they were running an unsustainable business model and would "robustly defend" the proceedings being brought against them.

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