Regulator to shut down suicide prevention charity

The Charity Commission, which is already running a statutory inquiry into Console Suicide Prevention, plans to close it down entirely because of concerns that its assets are at serious risk of harm

The Charity Commission has said it plans to shut down the UK branch of the Irish suicide prevention charity Console.

The order to close Console Suicide Prevention, which was published on Friday, comes as a statutory inquiry into the charity, begun because of concerns that the charity’s assets were at serious and significant risk of harm, continues.

The commission launched the inquiry and froze the charity’s bank accounts in 2016 after allegations emerged in the media about the Irish charity Console Suicide Bereavement Counselling, which is the parent charity of Console Suicide Prevention.

The allegations included falsifying accounts to obtain funding, significant private benefit, conflicts of interest and financial mismanagement.

In 2016 the Irish High Court 2016 granted an injunction preventing Paul Kelly, the Irish charity’s former chief executive, from accessing Console’s bank accounts and credit cards, amid widespread allegations being made in the local media about financial irregularities.

In July 2017, the trustees of the UK branch of the charity told the commission that they would wind up the charity, but the commission said it was not satisfied the trustees had taken sufficient steps to do so.

The commission’s order – made under section 84b of the Charities Act 2011 – allows the regulator to issue an order to wind up a charity if it is satisfied it does not or should not operate, and that closing it is in the public interest.

The reasons cited by the commission for closing the charity include protecting the charity’s property and that there has been misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

Anyone wishing to make representations to the commission has 30 days to do so. The commission will close the charity on 2 November.

The commission said its inquiry remained ongoing.

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