Aid watchdog closes UK military charity Support for Heroes after it ‘misled the public'

Inquiry found majority of funds went to private company instead of veterans

Trustees of a UK military charity found guilty of misconduct after bulk of funds raised were given to a private company instead of to veterans. Photo: MoD
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Britain's aid watchdog has ordered the closure of a military charity after an inquiry revealed funds had been given to a private company instead of to veterans.

The Charity Commission opened an inquiry into Support for Heroes in 2016 over concerns about the trustees’ management of conflicts of interests and the charity’s fundraising activities, in particular an arrangement with a company called Targeted Management Limited (TML).

The charity was founded to support people serving or who had served in the armed forces, but the inquiry found only 18 per cent of its fundraising was actually given to veterans.

The inquiry concluded that the trustees were guilty of misconduct and/or mismanagement and the commission has now secured voluntary undertakings that they will not act as trustees of any charity for a period of five years.

Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Charity Commission, said: "Donors have a reasonable expectation that the money they give reaches the cause they care about.

"Due to a complete lack of transparency about the fundraising arrangements, the charity misled the public and much of the money went to a private company instead of military veterans and serving personnel in need.

"Cases like these have the potential to seriously undermine trust and confidence in charities generally. So it is right that we took robust action to ensure the charity was removed from the register and its trustees cannot lead other charities for a period of five years."

During the inquiry it was discovered that the only two trustees were sisters, and one of them, the chair of trustees, was the long-term partner of the sole director of TML.

The chair entered into agreements with TML, and agreed amendments that proved costly to the charity, without approval from the other trustee and without declaring or managing the conflict of interest.

TML had been significantly involved in the formation of the charity and received 67 per cent of the gross proceeds raised from the public by fundraising activities.

As a result, the charity donated only about 18 per cent of the gross income raised between 2015 and 2017 to charitable causes.

"The inquiry concluded that the public was misled by the charity’s fundraising activities and, as a result, were unable to make an informed decision whether to donate to the charity," the report said.

"The trustees did not act in the best interests of the charity in entering into the fundraising agreement, as they did not properly assess the risks or assess other fundraising options, and did not ensure whether the contract was lawful, appropriate and represented value for money."

The commission has now ordered the interim manager to wind up the charity. Its remaining funds have been redistributed to the Help the Heroes charity.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 9:43 AM
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