The Charity Commission has concluded that two former trustees of a charity responsible for the Concordia Theatre in Hinckley, Leicestershire, covered up allegations of inappropriate behaviour made against a person involved with the charity who was subsequently convicted of child sex offences.
The commission’s report on its statutory inquiry into the Hinckley Concordia Association, published yesterday, concluded that the trustees, who are not named, were guilty of mismanagement and misconduct.
The regulator became involved with the association after it received serious incident reports from the charity in October 2013 and January 2014. These said that a former member, volunteer and performer had been convicted of child sex offences in June 2013 and sent to prison, and that other former performers had been arrested for alleged offences that gave rise to safeguarding concerns.
The commission was also concerned that the charity’s safeguarding procedures said trustees should be informed of any potential issues but did not require the information to be passed to any other agencies.
All four of the charity’s trustees resigned between 4 February and 27 March, the report says. It says that two of the former trustees might have withheld knowledge from the other trustees about previous criminal convictions of a theatre employee.
The report says: "The two former trustees had knowledge that someone with criminal convictions that would affect their suitability from a safeguarding perspective had been employed at the theatre and did not deal responsibly and appropriately with the matter."
It says this information, which the two trustees disputed was withheld, "may have exposed the charity’s beneficiaries to risk of harm".
It found that one of those two trustees "failed to properly and responsibly deal with allegations of inappropriate behaviour by a member of staff".
The report says: "The inquiry found that an allegation of inappropriate behaviour was reported to one of the two former trustees several years previously. It related to an individual involved with the charity at that time. The concern was that it was not dealt with and, in effect, ‘brushed under the carpet’.
"The person against whom the allegations were made subsequently went on to be convicted of sexual offences involving children in June 2013."
The report concludes: "These failings amounted to misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity by those two individuals."
It says the commission would have gone on to consider suspension and removal of the individuals, but they resigned before this was possible.
The inquiry received no evidence to suggest that the other trustees had failed in their duties, the report says. It says that all of the people who were arrested or convicted for child-related offences are no longer involved with the charity.
In early February, the theatre lost its licence from the local authority to hold performances by children, but this was reissued on 2 May.
The charity has appointed a new trustee board, which the report says has put in place new safeguarding and reporting procedures and made various changes to its governance.
A spokesman for the Hinckley Concordia Theatre said: "The Charity Commission has recognised the work carried out by the theatre in the early part of 2014 to strengthen its safeguarding procedures.
"We worked very closely with all of the relevant stakeholders – including Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council – to put in place a much more robust set of child protection measures, in line with their advice and guidance.
"The new policies have now been in place for more than six months, but we continue to liaise closely with the authorities to ensure that the Concordia Theatre remains a safe environment for all."