Trustees disqualified for 'persistent and prolonged' failures

The Charity Commission has disqualified two trustees from a charity that has faced three inquiries since 2017.

The commission said Hartley Hanley and Mike Bisson, both trustees at the Moss Side and Hulme Community Development Trust, were responsible for “persistent and prolonged” failures at the charity.

The commission first contacted the Manchester-based charity five years ago, after it failed to file accounts for two years in succession.

When the regulator looked at the trust’s accounts, it found that the charity had made £56,000 in unauthorised payments to one of its trustees. 

It opened the first statutory inquiry in 2018 to examine the payments and whether trustees were managing the charity appropriately.

That inquiry closed in November 2020 after the trust was ordered to recruit more trustees, hold annual general meetings, create policies to protect against conflicts of interest and ensure no further unauthorised payments were made.

The commission said it made “multiple attempts” during 2021 to check whether Hanley and Bisson had complied with the order, which were met with “only little engagement” from one of the trustees. 

As a result, the regulator opened a second statutory inquiry to examine whether the trustees were fulfilling their legal duties to the charity.

It found that no steps had been taken to hold an AGM, and that Hanley and Bisson were responsible for misconduct or mismanagement of the charity.

The commission appointed three new trustees, who co-opted another two board members to make sure an annual general meeting could take place in March 2022. 

Before that meeting, Bisson quit as a trustee and Hanley was removed by the new board.

The regulator today said both men had been disqualified from acting as charity trustees for seven years.

Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Charity Commission, said: “Trustees of charities should show accountability towards the communities they serve, and the wider public. This includes complying with an order of the commission.

“Mr Hanley and Mr Bisson are responsible for persistent and prolonged failures in the management of this charity. We have taken robust regulatory action to ban these individuals from serving as trustees or senior managers in any charity for seven years. 

“I hope that the new trustee board can deliver on the charity’s aims for the people of Moss Side and Hulme.”

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