High Court set to deliver Kids Company verdict

The Official Receiver is seeking the disqualification from senior positions of founder Camila Batmanghelidjh and a group of former trustees of the charity, which collapsed in 2015

The High Court is poised to deliver its verdict in the case against Camila Batmanghelidjh and a group of former trustees of the collapsed charity Kids Company.

The 10-week trial concluded in December in a case that has reignited conversations in the sector about the role of trustees in a charity’s governance.

The Official Receiver hopes to secure disqualification from senior positions for periods of up to six years against Batmanghelidjh, founder and chief executive of Kids Company, and seven trustees of the charity at the time it closed abruptly in 2015.

That includes Alan Yentob, the former BBC creative director who chaired Kids Company for 18 years, and Richard Handover, former chair and chief executive of the retailer WHSmith.

The OR’s case, in part, was that the trustees ran an unsustainable business model, and should have been able to see the charity was heading for financial meltdown.

It also argued that Batmanghelidjh was in effect a director of the charity by virtue of her position as chief executive.

Batmanghelidjh and the former trustees roundly rejected those accusations and said the periods of disqualification being sought were extreme, unsupported and unfairly presented.

Legal teams acting on behalf of the former trustees and Batmanghelidjh pored over details of committee meetings, internal email exchanges, and external correspondence with the government.

Defence teams criticised the OR’s case for presenting evidence in ways they considered to be “thoroughly unfair” and contested the claim that the charity’s cash flow projections were “fictional”.

On the witness stand, Batmanghelidjh maintained that she had been battling to hold the charity together in the face of insubordination, rumour and misinformation.

The defence concluded bullishly, with a warning that disqualifying Batmanghelidjh and the trustees from similar roles would set a precedent that would make any trustee unwise to join a charity confronted by difficulties.

Justice Falk will deliver her verdict at the High Court later this afternoon.

For the latest Kids Company coverage, follow @ThirdSector on Twitter and visit the Third Sector website on Friday afternoon.

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