Irene Khan resigns from Charity Commission board

Irene Khan

Irene Khan resigns from Charity Commission board6

Governance | Niki May Young | 14 Mar 2011

Irene Khan, who recently received heavy criticism for accepting a £533,103 payoff from Amnesty International's trading arm when she was asked to leave the organisation, has resigned from the board of the Charity Commission.

Former Amnesty International Ltd secretary-general Khan, her deputy Kate Gilmore and Amnesty came under fire from the international public when it was revealed that payoffs of £533,103 and £325,244 were paid respectively to the pair after Khan refused to leave at the end of her term in 2009. Amnesty published a full and frank explanation of events, conceding that paying off Khan was the "least-worst option". 

But, as yet, Khan and Gilmore have made no public comment on the matter and some have questioned Khan's appointment to the board of the charity regulator which was effective from 1 January 2010. The Charity Commission commented upon the revelation that it had "no jurisdiction" over the pay-off to Khan and her deputy and that it was "a contractual matter between the non-charitable company AI Ltd and Irene Khan".

Announcing Khan's resignation from the Charity Commission this afternoon, Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, said: "Charities have a critical role to play in the Big Society and the Charity Commission, as the independent regulator has the important job of supervising the sector and preserving public confidence in charities.  

“I have accepted Irene Khan’s resignation. I am grateful for Irene’s contribution to the Commission over the last year.”

Khan, however, dismissed the resignation as a practicality given that she no longer lives in the UK. 

"It has been an honour and a privilege to serve on the board of the Charity Commission," said Khan. "I have greatly enjoyed the work but regrettably have decided to resign as my assignment overseas means that I am no longer resident in the UK and cannot give the Commission the time and priority it deserves."

Dame Suzi Leather, Charity Commission chair, added: "Irene's breadth of experience, and particularly her deep understanding of the issues affecting international charities and NGOs, has been of great value to the Charity Commission during her time on the board. 

"She has however recently found it increasingly difficult to combine her responsibilities as a board member with her international commitments, and so has tendered her resignation. We wish her the very best for the future."

Khan is currently chancellor of Salford University and consulting editor of Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star.

It was also announced that John Wood, one of two legally qualified board members will continue for a second three-year term continuing to sit alongside Simon Jones, John Knight, Sharmila Nebhrajani, Theo Sowa and Simon Wethered on the Charity Commission board. 

  • On 21 March 2011, lawyers for Irene Khan clarified details of her salary and severance package in a letter to Civil SocietyRead the letter here.

21 Mar 2011

Now how much did she take/get out of the till this time?

Dr. Barbara E. Harrell-Bond, OBE
Fahamu Refugee Programme, Fahamu Trust
21 Mar 2011

Hello Irene, The Fahamu Refugee Programme urgently needs £50,000 annually to pay for a lawyer trained in refugee law, and a bit of technical assistance to ensure the sustainability of its information portal, its list serve, and its Refugee Legal Aid monthly eNewletter which has all been so far accomplished by volunteer labour and my shrinking savings. It is difficult to raise funds for it because it is global; most funders designate funds for regions or countries.

Edward Ingle
16 Mar 2011


I hope that she doesn't get another massive pay off now from the Charity Commission to add to her 1/2 million from Amnesty International.

Does her non-residency also mean that she will be resigning from her role as Chancellor of Salford University?

15 Mar 2011

"She no longer lives in the UK". Yeah, probably because she's been able to move to Barbados with that payout! Don't people have any scruples these days? And they say politicians are scoundrels...

David Wolverson
15 Mar 2011

All very fine and polite words, but the scandal of a charity paying such huge sums was clearly wrong demonstrating a number of failures at the top of AI. It was very right that Ms Khan should leave the Charity Commission. Those regulating others need to have moral authority.

16 Mar 2011
Response to [David Wolverson]

I am not clear how Khan can fulfill her role as Chancellor of Salford University if she is living overseas - surely the same principles apply to this role too!


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