Great Ormond Street charity decides to keep Presidents Club donations

In the wake of the sexual harassment scandal that engulfed the Presidents Club, the children's hospital charity said it would give the money back, but has now reversed that decision

Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity has reversed its decision to reject £530,000 of donations from the scandal-hit Presidents Club Charitable Trust.

The Presidents Club said in January that it would close after donors at its men-only fundraising gala in London were accused of sexually harassing female hostesses.

Gosh, the Royal Academy of Music, the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity and Evelina London Children's Hospital, which is part of Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, all pledged to return donations in the immediate aftermath.

But Gosh said last month that it was considering reversing its decision and at a board meeting on Tuesday the charity’s trustees decided to keep the funds, which were raised between 2009 and 2016.

A Gosh statement said: "Following feedback from our supporters, guidance from the Charity Commission and taking into account the impending closure of the Presidents Club Charitable Trust, the trustees have decided to retain the funds donated by the trust.

"Our thinking is always guided by our aim to maximise the support we give to the hospital and the families it cares for."

The U-turn comes after the Charity Commission warned last week that handing back donations was complicated and often not legally possible.

Sarah Atkinson, director of policy, planning and communications at the commission, said returning funds was extremely difficult and some charities "had got themselves into a bit of a mess and had to backtrack".

Atkinson said many charities' governing documents did not allow it so they would probably need permission from the commission and "we are going to have to see the case that says it is in the long-term interests of the charity".

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