'Governance risk' for military charities

Organisations served mainly by trustees on front-line service might not be being properly scrutinised, experts warn

A number of military charities are at risk of governance failures because most of their trustees are serving members of the armed forces taking part in operations overseas and cannot fulfil their duties, charities and lawyers have warned.

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Bray, secretary of military charities' umbrella body the Confederation of Service and Ex-service Organisations, said: "If trustees are on active service in front-line operations, their attention may quite properly be elsewhere."

Jane Lonergan, a partner in the law firm Wilsons and a former army captain, warned there was a "strong risk" that this meant some charities were not being properly scrutinised.

"It's very hard to write to a trustee who is serving abroad to ask whether they have considered a certain issue affecting a charity in the UK," she said.

"The potential for disaster is there. I worry that there will be more complaints about the conduct of charities whose boards are almost entirely staffed by serving officers."

Lonergan declined to name any charities, but said military sports charities were at the greatest risk.

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