Charity founder awaits ruling on bid to challenge findings in regulator’s report

A judge on Thursday considered complaints by Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Keeping Kids Company, at a High Court hearing in London.

Camila Batmanghelidjh
Camila Batmanghelidjh

The founder of collapsed charity Keeping Kids Company is waiting to see whether a judge will give her the go-ahead to mount a High Court challenge to criticisms in a regulator’s report.

Mr Justice Bourne on Thursday considered Camila Batmanghelidjh’s complaints about findings made by the Charity Commission at a High Court hearing in London.

He indicated he would deliver a ruling on whether she had an arguable case and could mount a “judicial review” soon.

Keeping Kids Company, which was also known as Kids Company or Kids Co, was wound up in 2015, the judge heard.

David Cameron
David Cameron was among the backers of the charity (Victoria Jones/PA)

It supported vulnerable children and young people in London and Bristol, and attracted celebrity backers including former prime minister David Cameron, Coldplay, artist Damien Hirst and comedian Michael McIntyre.

The commission had in February published the results of a statutory inquiry into the collapse and made a finding of “mismanagement in the administration of the charity” over the failure to pay creditors, including its own workers, on time.

Keeping Kids Company had operated a “high-risk business model”, the commission said.

Trustees allowed spending to increase without a secure stream of income to cover increased costs or mitigate an unexpected fall in fundraising, the report said.

A barrister representing Ms Batmanghelidjh argued on Thursday that the report made “unwarranted, irrational and unreasonable” criticisms of Keeping Kids Company and, by implication, Ms Batmanghelidjh – the charity’s “public face”.

Ian Wise KC also argued the report was “tainted by predetermination” and was “accordingly unlawful”.

He told the judge that Ms Batmanghelidjh was “tainted” by the report.

Mr Wise said she was “unable to work at the moment” and felt that was “in part due to the report”.

Alan Yentob
Alan Yentob is among the former trustees of the charity (Yui Mok/PA)

Faisel Sadiq, who represented the commission, disputed claims made by Ms Batmanghelidjh and argued she should not be given the go-ahead to mount a challenge.

He said the commission had considered it “necessary and proportionate” to investigate the “public collapse” of Keeping Kids Company and argued that conclusions reached were “fair” and supported by evidence.

Mr Sadiq said there was “no proper basis” for concluding that findings were “tainted by irrationality”.

The charity’s closure came shortly after police launched an investigation, which was later dropped, into unfounded allegations of abuse and exploitation at the charity following the broadcast of a BBC Newsnight report.

Last year, a bid to ban Ms Batmanghelidjh and seven ex-trustees from being company directors was rejected by a High Court judge.

Mrs Justice Falk said the public “need no protection from these trustees”, calling them “highly impressive and dedicated individuals”.

The commission had said it agreed with Mrs Justice Falk, that there was no dishonesty, bad faith, or inappropriate personal gain in the charity’s operations.

In a joint statement, former trustees – including the BBC’s ex-creative director Alan Yentob – had said Mrs Justice Falk’s finding “made clear that there was no basis for concluding that there was mismanagement in the conduct of the charity’s affairs”.

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