The Charity Tribunal for Northern Ireland has rejected an appeal against a change to the governing document of the lifeboat charity Lough Neagh Rescue, brought by a trustee who was removed from his position.
Trevor McKee was removed as a trustee of LNR in 2013 after the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland opened a statutory inquiry into the charity. Five other members of the charity were removed by the CCNI at the same time.
Those five were reinstated after a charity tribunal appeal – although they have not in practice been able to return to LNR – but McKee’s appeal against his removal was later rejected on the grounds that his reinstatement would cause "further conflict and disharmony" at the charity.
McKee has continued to challenge what he considers unjust decisions by the commission and the tribunal – he has lobbied politicians, spoken to various media outlets and made requests to the CCNI under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to a tribunal document published this week, the CCNI approved a change of the articles of association of LNR on 3 September 2013.
The cut-off date for an appeal against this would have been 15 October 2013. However, according to the tribunal document, McKee said he learned of the changes to the articles on 10 November 2014, when the CCNI responded to a request he had submitted under the Freedom of Information Act.
McKee submitted an appeal on 30 November last year, in which he said he was concerned that the articles would remove control from the charity membership and were "written to benefit ex and non-members".
The tribunal’s ruling says it accepts that McKee might not have known of the CCNI’s approval of the change of articles until November 2014, but notes that during 2013 he had been involved in and supportive of LNR’s proposal to change the articles before it was taken to the regulator for approval.
The ruling says it would be disruptive to the charity – though it is not a respondent to the appeal – were the appeal to be allowed. The ruling says McKee has not substantiated his fear that the changes would be bad for the charity, and he could instead have made his complaint directly to the commission, rather than coming to the tribunal.
The CCNI previously said it had hoped to conclude and publish a report on its original statutory inquiry into LNR in late 2014, although no report has yet been published.