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Charity Commission provides governance advice to air ambulance charity

Charity Commission provides governance advice to air ambulance charity
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Charity Commission provides governance advice to air ambulance charity

Governance | Tania Mason | 20 Jan 2010

The Charity Commission has provided some guidance to the trustees of the London Air Ambulance charity about certain financial and governance issues, but has made no judgement about whether they were correct to dismiss chief executive David Philpott last November.

Philpott (pictured) was sacked after he started investigating a number of complaints he had received from members of staff and trustees about the conduct and activities of certain other board members. He had been working at the charity, officially called London HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) for 12 weeks.

The week before Philpott was sacked, he had submitted a paper to the trustees alleging that, because of poor financial controls, the charity was living beyond its means and trading while technically insolvent.  

Philpott has lodged an appeal against his dismissal, which the charity has agreed to hear.

The Charity Commission stepped in after the story hit the headlines, and raised a number of questions with the charity.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said this week: "Concerns were raised with us about governance and financial controls at Virgin Hems (London). Having considered the concerns raised, we have given advice and guidance to the charity on a number of issues. Provided the trustees implement our recommendations, there is no further role for us in this matter.

"We also received complaints about an employment matter at the charity. The Commission can not generally become involved in employment issues in charities, as these are a matter for the charity trustees to decide. We therefore did not consider the employment issues raised with us during our case, and we advised the complainants of this."

The charity's trustees said they would implement the Commission's advice immediately.

The charity’s chair, Dr Gareth Davies, said: “We are delighted that the Charity Commission has been so supportive and given the charity a clean bill of health. We look forward to the future and to continuing to provide the people of London with the unique care the air ambulance team offers.”

Philpott ‘welcomes Commission’s conclusion’

David Philpott said he welcomed the speed with which the Commission had concluded the matter, though he was “a little surprised that they have done so without speaking to me”.

He added: “It is encouraging to know that all the allegations I had been asked to investigate by some trustees and staff appear to have been without foundation. 

”I am also pleased to note that the Charity Commission has given advice and guidance to London’s Air Ambulance so that in future, through more transparent governance, the widespread perception of conflicts of interest on the trustee board can be eradicated.”

He maintained he was right to raise the issues he did, however. “It would have been a dereliction of my duty as CEO not to look into complaints and allegations, especially since some of these came from trustees. It is sufficient to say that is was not a harmonious board.”

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