Regulator opens statutory inquiry into refugee charity because of governance concerns

The Charity Commission said there is a lack of clarity over the appointment of trustees at Care4Calais

Care4Calais (Photograph: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images)
Care4Calais (Photograph: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty Images)

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the refugee charity Care4Calais because of serious concerns about its governance.

The regulator said it opened the inquiry into the volunteer-run charity in August last year because of issues including a lack of clarity about who had been validly appointed as a trustee and how decisions were made.

The commission said in a statement today that it was “concerned that the charity’s existing governance arrangements may not be appropriate for a charity of this size, leading to potential further problems, including around implementing adequate financial controls and enacting safeguarding policies”.

The regulator said its inquiry would examine issues including whether there had been mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of the charity by the trustees; whether or not the charity has followed its regulatory advice and guidance; the charity’s financial controls and its safeguarding policies.

The regulator has appointed Sarah Tomlinson and Philip Watts of Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP as interim managers to review the charity’s governance, administration and decision-making.

They have been asked to make recommendations so that the charity was “operating in line with its governing document, relevant laws and that its policies and procedures reflect best practice”.

The charity’s trustees remain otherwise responsible for the running of the organisation, the commission said.

Care4Calais, which supports refugees in the UK, France and Belgium, was registered with the commission five years ago and had an income of £880,000 in the year to the end of September 2020.

The charity said in a statement that it would work with the regulator “to ensure best-practice governance and compliance”.

It said: “Over the last 12 months Care4Calais has grown considerably to meet the unprecedented need of its beneficiaries and the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Thousands of volunteers have stepped up and given countless hours to meet this need and the trustees and management have worked tirelessly to support them.

“These extraordinary circumstances have put pressure on our systems and our staff and volunteers have worked hard to meet these challenges.

“The trustees and management committee are all volunteers.

“In this way charity costs are kept to a minimum so that the maximum benefit can be delivered to people in great need.”

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