NI regulator to remove second trustee from Disabled Police Officers Association of Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is conducting a statutory inquiry into the Belfast-based charity amid concerns about governance and financial controls

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
Charity Commission for Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published its intention to remove a second trustee from the Disabled Police Officers Association of Northern Ireland, which is subject to a year-long statutory inquiry and has a commission-appointed interim manager.

The Belfast-based DPOANI was founded in 1983 and helps officers who have suffered serious injuries while on service. The CCNI opened its inquiry on 14 February 2014 amid concerns about its governance and financial controls. The commission has not disclosed further details about the nature of the inquiry.

In August, the regulator made orders to suspend trustees William Allen and Robert Crawford from their roles. Elaine Hampton, chief executive of the charity, was also suspended. Using another order, the regulator appointed three new trustees – David Barrett, Lindsay Boal and James Craig – to the charity.

In October, the CCNI appointed the accountancy firm Harbinson Mulholland as interim manager of the charity to the exclusion of its trustees, and also announced its intention to remove Crawford from his trusteeship, pending representations from the public or the charity.

In November, the regulator renewed the appointment of the three new trustees, appointed two further trustees – Denise Hughes and Ramesh May – and instructed the charity to conduct a forensic audit, review its governance, hold an annual general meeting and elect new trustees, all by 31 March 2015.

Crawford was subsequently removed as a trustee on 22 January.

A statement from the CCNI gave no further details about the nature of the inquiry, but said: "The commission has been proactive in its approach to this matter, working to protect the assets and beneficiaries of DPOANI, and looks forward to closing the inquiry once satisfied the governance and associated issues have been resolved."

Yesterday the CCNI published on its website a notice of its intention to remove Allen as a trustee of the charity. Any people or organisations that wish to make representations to the commission about Allen's potential removal must do so by 25 February.

Hampton's suspension and the appointment of Harbinson Mulholland have also been renewed by separate orders. Nine trustees of the charity remain – the five appointed by the commission, three pre-existing trustees and the suspended Allen.

The DPOANI case marks the first time the CCNI has used its powers to appoint an interim manager since the regulator was created in 2009, and the second time it has removed a trustee.

The first was Trevor McKee, who was removed from the lifeboat charity Lough Neagh Rescue in 2013.

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