Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email [email protected] to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.
The ignominious collapse of Kids Company took a further turn on Monday, when it was revealed that former trustees of the charity are facing lengthy bans from running or controlling companies in the UK. The Insolvency Service will request in a legal action that eight former trustees — including the BBC’s Alan Yentob, Richard Handover, former chief executive of retailer WH Smith, and Vince O’Brien, former chair of the British Venture Capital Association — are disqualified from acting as company directors for between two-and-a-half and six years. The service will also argue that Camila Batmanghelidjh, the charity’s founder, should be banned from a company directorship. She was not a trustee at the time of Kids Company’s closure in 2015, but the service claims that she “acted as a de facto director”. Kids Company, which received at least £42m in public funding during its 19-year history, became a lightning rod for concerns about the governance of Britain’s charities. Its profile was amplified by Ms Batmanghelidjh’s near-celebrity status, and her connections with senior politicians, including David Cameron and George Osborne. A musical based on her appearance before a parliamentary committee is currently running at London’s Donmar Warehouse theatre. In 2016, MPs accused Kids Company’s trustees of “a complete lack of experience of youth services” and of ignoring auditors’ “repeated warnings” about the charity’s precarious cash flow. They criticised Ms Batmanghelidjh in particular for agreeing to provide “luxury items”, such as spa breaks, to a small number of children. At the time, trustees said that Kids Company had been the victim of hostile media coverage, and that it was not credible that “the trustees, auditors, care experts, inspectors, regulators and the government all failed”. Ms Batmanghelidjh’s own account of the charity’s demise, Kids, is due to be published in August. The book will call for “something like” Kids Company to help vulnerable children. Under Ms Batmanghelidjh’s leadership, the charity claimed to help 36,000 children in London, Liverpool and Bristol, against a backdrop of government cuts, although that figure was later questioned.