Reports mark end of diabetes saga

The Charity Commission has today published two inquiry reports involving an ex-banker and two diabetes charities, bringing to an end investigations that began more than 10 years ago.

The publication of the reports into Diabetes Help and the Diabetes Foundation, which were both set up by Arthur Bennett and his late wife, end years of legal disputes and bitter wrangling that involved several court cases.

The Diabetes Help report said that Bennett, who was convicted of fraud and disqualified from acting as a trustee in 2003, had fraudulently raised money in the charity's name.

"The commission found no evidence that funds raised through the charity by Mr Bennett were spent on charitable purposes," it said.

Bennett's daughter Jennifer, who latterly became the sole eligible trustee of Diabetes Help, was cautioned by police after sending an email to the commission during the investigation that contained a video attachment of a hostage being beheaded by a militia group in Iraq.

The report into the Diabetes Foundation explains how Bennett and his late wife, Gillian Aitkin, used more than £200,000 of charitable funds to purchase a business and a property in Florida in 1996.

When Aitkin died, the commission seized the £63,491 raised through the sale of the property by freezing Bennett's bank account, leading to a legal battle.

The High Court ruled against Bennett's application to unfreeze the account after he failed to show up at the hearing (Third Sector Online, 27 July, 2007). The money was returned to the Diabetes Foundation.

Former Diabetes Foundation chair Judith Rich said she was relieved that a line could be drawn under this "horrific and most distressing exercise".

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