Major institutional donor to King Charles’s charity to close amid investigation

10 Nov 2023 News

King Charles III

Buckingham Palace

A foundation that was a major donor to a charity set up by King Charles is set to close after being investigated by the Charity Commission.

The Commission plans to close the Barrowman Foundation, which had donated large sums to the Prince’s Trust, in three months’ time after publishing a notice of dissolution this week.

Millionaire founder Douglas Barrowman and his Conservative peer wife Michelle Mone have both stepped down as trustees of the Barrowman Foundation.

A former director of a company awarded £200m in government funding to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic has joined the board.

Meanwhile, the Prince’s Trust has announced that its name will change to the King’s Trust.

Barrowman Foundation to close

Last year, the Commission announced it was assessing concerns raised about the Barrowman Foundation, which had been listed as a “platinum patron” of the Prince’s Trust.

The regulator did not say the nature of the concerns but the Guardian reported at the time that the Barrowman Foundation had been funded by unsecured loans.

A spokesperson from the Prince’s Trust said at the time: “We have not received any funds from Mr Barrowman since February 2019 and have no plans to accept any further donations.”

It is no longer listed as a patron on the Prince’s Trust’s website.

The Barrowman Foundation’s accounts for 2021 showed that a £1.46m loan to the charity was converted into a donation that year.

It stated that the charity’s principal funding source was donations from Barrowman, and listed Mone as a trustee.

This week, the Commission published a notice of dissolution for the Barrowman Foundation dated 8 November on its website, indicating its intention to close the charity in three months’ time.

“The Commission intends to dissolve this CIO after three months from the date of this notice unless cause is shown to the contrary,” it says.

“Representations must be made to the Commission within three months.”

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We provided the trustees of the Barrowman Foundation with advice and guidance at the conclusion of our compliance case.

“We have now received notification of the trustees’ intention to dissolve the charity and are currently engaging with them to ensure this is completed in line with their duties.”

New trustees appointed

Barrowman and Mone are not listed as trustees of the Barrowman Foundation on the Commission’s website.

Voirrey Coole was appointed as a trustee in June and is a former director of PPE Medpro, which is being investigated after being awarded over £200m in government contracts to supply face masks and sterile surgical gowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week, a spokesperson for Barrowman and Mone was reported in the Guardian as confirming that the Conservative peer was involved in the contracts being awarded.

Rebecca Duke, an employee of the Barrowman-founded Knox House Trust, was also appointed as a Barrowman Foundation trustee this year.

Arthur Lancaster, a director of the Knox House Trust, has been a trustee of the Barrowman Foundation since 2017.

Civil Society was unable to contact the Barrowman Foundation, whose website is “under maintenance” and latest accounts are 10 days overdue, for comment.

Prince’s Trust rebrands

The Prince’s Trust announced today that it will become the King’s Trust following King Charles’s accession to the throne last year.

A charity spokesperson said: “We are pleased to announce that we will become the King’s Trust.

“The evolution of our name enables us to retain proximity to our founder, his majesty the king, reflecting his continued dedication to our work since 1976.

“As we work towards this change over the coming months, we will continue to support young people and communities who face disadvantage and adversity to access employment, education and training, in the UK and around the world.”   

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