Police examine misconduct complaint against Charity Commission

Police are examining a claim of misconduct in public office made by a charity against the Charity Commission. 

The whistleblowing charity Compassion in Care submitted evidence to the Metropolitan Police at the end of last week after obtaining information about the regulator’s investigation into the charity through a subject access request. 

In an email to police, seen by Third Sector, the charity claims the additional information shows “clear evidence of means, motive and opportunity to abuse a position of power to the extent it is misconduct in a public office”.

The commission apologised to the charity earlier this month after a review found aspects of its compliance case “disproportionate” and identified a number of other shortcomings.

These included problems in the tone of its initial correspondence, which incorrectly implied that the commission had already made a judgement on its regulatory concerns, by suggesting that a connection between trustees automatically created a conflict of interest.

The commission said its position had not changed since the outcome of its review and reiterated its intention to learn what went wrong in this case.

It also said a stage two complaints process remained underway.

Eileen Chubb, the charity’s founder, said the police enquiry must ascertain why the commission conducted what she claimed was a biased investigation. 

She said: “We will fight until we get accountability for the harm [the regulator] caused our beneficiaries, trustees and volunteers.”

It is the second time the charity has accused the regulator of “politically motivated bias”

But the commission’s review found no evidence to suggest the case should not have been opened in the first place because of the alleged motivations of those raising the concerns against the charity, or any institutional bias.

A regulator spokesperson said: “We apologised to the trustees of Compassion in Care after a review of their complaint found shortcomings in our case handling, which we acknowledge created additional stress for the trustees of a small charity. 

“Our review concluded it was right for us to examine concerns raised with us about the charity and issue regulatory advice to the trustees, but aspects of our approach were not good enough. 

“We are committed to learning the lessons from what went wrong in this case. We are aware that the trustees are not happy with the outcome of our review, and the matter is now subject to the next stage of our complaints process.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were contacted on Friday 23 July regarding an allegation of misconduct in a public office. Enquiries are ongoing.”

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