Investigation into £1m theft at children's charity

The Charity Commission is continuing its inquiry into the events surrounding the theft of almost £1m from a children's charity. Two people have already been convicted of stealing from the organisation.

The woman formerly in charge of fundraising for Catch, a children’s mental health charity, was this week convicted of stealing from the charity between 1998 and 2002. In February, another man was found guilty of theft and tax evasion offences relating to the same charity.

Both were alleged to have falsely collected donations totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds on the charity’s behalf, while the man involved was also alleged to have falsely claimed Gift Aid on non-existent donations. The extent of the pair’s embezzlement was revealed in a recent Daily Mirror investigation.

Concerns about financial irregularities at Catch prompted the Charity Commission to launch an investigation several years ago. In 2002 the Manchester Evening News reported that the charity, which once counted Joan Collins among its patrons, had been wound up by a judge. The paper also reported that the fundraising organisation run by the woman who was convicted this week was not suspected of wrongdoing and was in negotiations to begin working for a different charity. She and four others now face sentencing over a string of similar theft offences involving charitable donations.

In a statement, the charity commission said: "Following serious concerns regarding apparently low levels of direct charitable expenditure made over a number of years by Catch, the Charity Commission opened a formal inquiry into this charity. This inquiry found evidence of serious mismanagement in the administration of the charity. The Charity Commission also reported its concerns to HMRC (at that time the Inland Revenue), which took forward its own investigation. The Commission will look to publish a report on its inquiry into the charity once this process is complete."


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