The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the refugee charity Care 4 Calais, and appointed two interim managers as part of its work with trustees.
The inquiry will consider safeguarding and financial controls at Care 4 Calais, and whether there has been any mismanagement or misconduct in the administration of the charity.
A statutory inquiry allows the Commission to use its full legal powers, if it decides that is necessary.
The Commission has appointed Sarah Tomlinson and Philip Watts from Anthony Collins Solicitors as interim managers, who will review governance at the charity.
Care 4 Calais had an income of of £877,000 last year, including the value of donated goods, and spent £586,000, according to its latest financial accounts. It relies on volunteers and has no paid staff.
The accounts show that Care 4 Calais repaid £40,000 to founder and trustee Clare Moseley last year, to settle an interest-free loan made to fund expenditure when the charity was established in 2016.
In 2017, Moseley was criticised in some parts of the media after reports that she had been in a relationship with a refugee who then travelled to Calais and hoped to come to the UK. At the time Moseley declined to comment on the claims, and the charity said it was focused on its work supporting refugees.
Records from the Charities Tribunal show that Care 4 Calais lodged an appeal against a Charity Commission decision in February, but withdrew that appeal in May this year.
Trustees still have ‘day-to-day responsibility’
The Commission said in a statement that it identified concerns in the charity's accounts and engaged with trustees in August 2020.
It said: “This engagement led to wider concerns about the charity’s governance, including a lack of clarity around who was validly appointed as a trustee and around how decisions are made.”
The statement added: “The Commission is concerned that the charity’s existing governance arrangements may not be appropriate for a charity of this size, leading to potential further problems, including around implementing adequate financial controls and enacting safeguarding policies.”
A note at the end of Care 4 Calais' 2019-20 accounts acknowledged the inquiry and said that the interim managers will “look specifically at the governance arrangements of the charity but day-to-day responsibility for the management will continue to reside with the trustees”.