The founder of former children’s charity Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, has won leave to appeal to the High Court in an attempt to overturn a charities monitoring report which she says was unbalanced, unfair and illegal.
Batmanghelidjh had pledged to challenge the Charity Commission’s investigative report into the highly publicized 2015 Kids Company collapse in court when it was finally published in February, calling it a “travesty” and “rewrite of the story”.
The report – which formally found ‘mismanagement in the administration of the charity’ against Kids Company’s board and management – came a year after a judge fully exonerated Batmanghelidjh and the directors of mismanagement of the charity after a three and a half year court case.
Batmangheldjh argued in his submission to the High Court that the commission’s inquiry report unfairly ignored many of the judge’s findings, relied too heavily on partial evidence and reflected a determination on the part of the watchdog to produce a critical review of Kids Company.
In his decision, Judge Bourne said he had found that Batmanghelidjh had an arguable case. “That doesn’t mean the applicant won’t face great hurdles,” he said. “Certain findings in the report are statements of uncontroversial fact, many of the comments at least could be construed as innocuous, and the court will not easily interfere with a decision by an expert regulator.
“It can nonetheless be argued that the report, read as a whole, makes or implies (or can be read to make or imply) several adverse conclusions about the governance of the charity, particularly with respect to decisions about the allocation of benefits to customers. If the report is so interpreted, the grounds for challenging it are arguable. »
Batmanghelidjh said in a statement: “I am pleased that the court case is being heard in full. I urge the Charity Commission to be full and candid in their disclosure to the court.
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said it would vigorously defend the request. He argued that he was not bound by the findings of the 2021 High Court decision and rejected Batmanghelidjh’s claim that his own findings were unbalanced and irrational.
The prospect of a judicial review next year is the latest in a long-running saga that has seen what was once one of the UK’s best-known children’s charities collapse amid unfounded sexual abuse allegations, followed by a vicious media and political campaign against Batmanghelidjh, the charity. former trustees and employees.
Until its closure in 2015, Kids Company provided practical, emotional and educational support to severely traumatized children living in poverty, abuse and neglect, with leading supporters from JK Rowling and Coldplay to David Cameron.
In 2017, the official receiver sued Batmanghelidjh, then the Kids Company’s chief executive, and its directors, arguing in more than 18,000 pages of evidence that the charity had been guilty of negligence, controls lax financials, pursuing a reckless business model and exaggerating the number of children served.
The case, brought to the taxpayers’ price of £9.5million, was dismissed by a High Court judge, who instead hailed Batmanghelidjh and the administrators as “a very impressive and dedicated group of individuals”. . He said the charity would have survived if the allegations of sexual abuse in the media had not destroyed its ability to raise funds.
Despite the court’s findings, the commission continued its investigation. He pointed to what he called Kids Company’s “high-risk business model” and criticized its oversight of certain expense items for child beneficiaries. But he also concluded that there was no basis for regulatory action against Batmanghelidjh or the directors, and confirmed that there was “no dishonesty, bad faith or improper gain in the operation of charity”.