The Charity Commission has finally published its inquiry report into the Cancer Care Foundation following a statutory inquiry which lasted more than ten years and cost just under £500,000 in interim manager’s fees.
The Commission described the case as “an unusually involved investigation, which comprised complex legal issues, litigation by concerned parties, the appointment of an interim manager, insolvency proceedings and new trustees being appointed to the charity”.
The Commission’s suspicions were aroused by the charity’s high fundraising costs and low levels of charitable expenditure. An earlier inquiry, which concluded in 1999, considered similar issues and the Commission and the charity had agreed some future targets for income, expenditure and donations to hospices. These targets were missed and because of the “significant and recurrent nature” of the concerns, the Commission opened a second inquiry on 22 August 2002.
Ian Oakley Smith and Adrian Stanway of PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed as interim managers on 15 September 2003, to manage the affairs of the charity in place of its trustees. Their total bill over nine years came to £494,064.
This inquiry examined whether Cancer Care Foundation’s acquisition of a subsidiary trading company, Caring Together, and the subsequent fundraising agreements were in the best interests of the charity. It found the trustees did not act in the best interests of the charity.
It also concluded that former trustees and members of their families received unauthorised benefits in breach of trust.
The interim managers told the Commission that they had found payments representing improper benefits totalling around £308,500 from 1999 to 2003 had been paid to current and former trustees and their families.
The Commission said its intervention secured the future of the charity and ensured its income was preserved for beneficiaries. It said: "The appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers as interim manager safeguarded donations, secured gift aid payments, and preserved a well-established income stream for when new trustees were appointed."
Since the appointment of new trustees in April 2009 the charity has donated just over £3.5m to several children’s hospices, the Commission added.