Matthew Steeples suggests the disgrace of Camila Batmanghelidjh should signal the death knell for the “do-nothing” organisation that is the Charity Commission
News on Sunday that the controversial Kids Company boss Camila Batmanghelidjh had a “personal private swimming pool” in a £5,000-a-month North London Grade II listed Art Deco house paid for out of the charity’s funds is shocking but not surprising. Miss Batmanghelidjh, it seems, treated the organisation as her own personal fiefdom and as has been the case with many other charities, one has to ask: “Where was the Charity Commission?”
Miss Batmanghelidjh, the Mail on Sunday also revealed, allowed her charity to pay £50,000 towards contributions to the school of her chauffeur’s son, gave the same chauffeur’s sister a job making her “trademark colourful outfits” and attempted to justify her actions by snapping at a reporter: “Whoever told you this has been malicious”.
In the interview with Simon Walters, Batmanghelidjh bleated:
“I know who [the individuals who told the Charity Commission and media about what was going on at Kids Company] are and you have to question their motives. What they have done is wrong. The issue will be addressed. My heart is very clear. If I’ve shed any tears, it’s been for the kids, not for me”.
Reading this I found myself thinking of another once high-profile lady involved in charity, Lady Meyer. In 2009, Richard Eden – who at that time worked on The Telegraph’s ‘Mandrake’ column – revealed that “all but £9,500 of the money received in donations” by the “Chanel-clad wife of the former British ambassador to Washington’s” charity, Parents & Abducted Children Together (PACT), went to Lady Meyer herself and one member of staff who had been employed as her assistant. When questioned, Meyer attempted to justify the situation in a similar way to Batmanghelidjh and complained: “We are doing a huge amount of work for very little salary… I used to work in the City and earned much more”.
On this occasion and despite my reporting the matter to the Charity Commission, nothing was done. Their pathetic answer: “It’s a matter for the charity’s trustees, not for us” was no doubt used when anyone complained to them about Batmanghelidjh’s charity also. Six years on, as the case of Kids Company proves, nothing has changed and thus it is time that the toothless “do-nothing” poodle that is the Charity Commission was finally consigned to history.
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