It seems a Whittington charity is being taken off three trustees alleged to have unlawfully lifted thousands of pounds from its accounts.
The the half-million-pound Poor Fund’s link with Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council (WFPC) also looks set to be cut.
It now appears the charity whose cash came from the sale of parish land will be taken over by the Staffordshire Community Foundation.
Trustees Patricia Braidley, Brian Russell and Glenda Leach have all failed to deny unlawfully taking money from the village charity.
Their clerk, Robert Young, of Apian Close, Tamworth, has failed to deny trying to conceal what the trio had been up to.
And WFPC chairman Martyn Bennett, has failed to deny doing nothing to recover the cash, despite his oversight duty.
A year-long battle to get the Charity Commission to take action suggests it is unfit for purpose.
It is an accusation repeatedly levelled at the organisation by government ministers.
It seems millions could be lifted from thousands of small charities and the watchdog would be none the wiser and incapable of doing anything anyway.
‘Unfit for purpose’
The Poor Fund first came to notice, in June 2015.
Villagers complained that Braidley, Leach and Russell had failed for years to file records with the Charity Commission.
The trio then unlawfully refused to provide a copy of their accounts.
They also broke promises to answer questions about their activities.
When they were made to produce their accounts it was revealed that Young had for years been listing unlawful payments to the trustees as legitimate, “expenses”.
The trio refused to explain why they had taken thousands of pounds in fees.
In 2013, they gave themselves a massive and unexplained 50 per cent pay hike.
They also appear to have falsely told WFPC that the Charity Commission had no issues with them.
No telling how much
Their refusal to answer questions makes it impossible to tell how long they have been taking money unlawfully, or how much has been lost to the fund.
They would not explain why they had paid Young thousands of pounds when there seemed little point in hiring him.
He took an unexplained 50 per cent pay rise in 2012.
Braidley, Leach and Russell said Young was their, “financial advisor”.
Young fiercely denied the claim.
Charity Commission chief executive Paula Sussex said the new trustee could recover the lost money, or do nothing.
Whittington residents felt allowing people to unlawfully take money from a charity with impunity was a disgrace which shamed the trustees, Bennett and Sussex.
Lichfield District Council member Christopher Spruce is among the trustees of the Staffordshire Community Foundation.
Massive allowance hikes
He was a key figure in securing this year’s massive inflation-busting allowance hikes for himself and his fellow councillors.
Labour veteran Eric Drinkwater described the move as, “morally obscene”.
Members of an independent pay panel were appalled at Spruce and his friends voting themselves huge increases while slashing public services and sacking staff.
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