Compassion in Care has accused the Charity Commission of being so demanding that it negatively impacted the charity’s services when the regulator opened a compliance case last year.
In a 16-page statement trustees say they had responded to an enquiry from the charity regulator and supplied the Commission with evidence that showed it was acting appropriately.
However, they claim the Commission kept asking for more information as part of a regulatory compliance case, and that it got to a point where this had a detrimental impact on the charity’s ability to help people.
Compassion in Care, a charity which runs a helpline for whistleblowers in the care sector, says it was contacted by the Commission in August 2020.
“The tone from the Charity Commission from the outset was aggressive and biased,” the statement says.
Trustees fear that their experience shows “malicious false threats of libel can effectively silence a charity”.
The charity says it has sent its evidence to parliament and the police. It has also complained to the Commission about its behaviour.
Compassion in Care has three trustees and no staff, and says that in 2020 it experienced higher demand related to the pandemic, with a 60% increase in calls.
Its helpline is operated by one of the trustees, Eileen Chubb, between 10am and 10pm.
The charity says it has spent 58 hours responding to the Commission, “in the middle of a pandemic and undertaken to demonstrate cooperation, despite our workload and having no paid staff”.
Compassion in Care’s statement adds that the Commission’s behaviour “was demanding and completely devoid of any understanding”.
Trustees say that the additional burden of responding to the Charity Commission meant it got to the point where: “None of the trustees were sleeping and the Commission had brought this charity’s services to its knees.”
During the course of the compliance case the charity needed to crowdfund to pay for legal representation.
Compassion in Care believes the source of the complaint against it was another whistleblowing organisation, and also accused the Commission of being “biased” and coming to “flawed conclusions”.
Charity Commission: ‘We take all complaints about our work seriously’
The compliance case into Compassion in Care concluded earlier this month and the complaint about the regulator’s handling is currently being dealt with.
In a statement the Charity Commission said: “We are aware of complaints made by the trustees of Compassion in Care about the conduct of our compliance case involving the charity.
“We take all complaints about our work seriously, and are handling this complaint in line with our published complaints procedure.
“We cannot comment further while that process is underway. This is to avoid prejudicing or compromising that work.”