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Charity Commission wins its first contempt of court case as trustees withhold evidence

15 Nov 2019 News

The High Court has found former trustees of the Darren Wright Foundation, a Bristol-based charity that raised funds to support the families of people with disabilities and life-limiting illnesses, in contempt of court.
The Charity Commission had initiated the application for contempt of court, which found that Susan and Raymond Wright failed to comply with an order to supply evidence and documentation to the regulator.

Another hearing is expected to determine the penalty against the two defendants.

This is the first time the regulator has pursued such a case through the courts. The Commission has the right to require individuals to provide information and warned yesterday that “failure to do so may amount to contempt of court.”

The Commission is continuing to investigate the charity over concerns about its management and governance. It had opened a statutory inquiry on 29 November 2017.

The Commission spoke with the Darren Wright Foundation in August 2017 following the receipt of complaints from families of beneficiaries of the charity. They had raised concerns about difficulties they had faced in communicating with the charity and accessing funds that had been raised on behalf of their family members.

The inquiry is investigating: 

  • The administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees, with specific regard to the extent to which the trustees have: acted in the charity’s best interests and in accordance with their duties and responsibilities under charity law; responsibly managed the charity’s resources and financial affairs; and worked to avoid or manage conflicts of interests.
  • The extent to which the charity operates in furtherance of its charitable purposes for the public benefit.
  • Whether and to what extent any issues or weaknesses in the administration of the charity were a result of misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees; and require rectification by the trustees or the Commission.

 The investigation is ongoing and the regulator has made no findings yet.

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