The charity behind Parkrun has paid the event’s founder more than £200,000 since 2018, in return for promoting the event.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt, a trustee at Parkrun Global, benefits from a deal with the charity which guarantees him both a permanent position on the board and the exclusive right to be paid as an employee while sitting as a trustee.
Sinton-Hewitt started the first Parkrun in his local park in 2004. In 2017, he joined the board of Parkrun Global, the charity created to promote the event's public health benefits.
The charity declined to provide a breakdown of the activities for which he has been paid.
In 2018, Sinton-Hewitt told The Guardian that he “wanted to take on all the people making so much money out of running”.
Parkrun Global paid Sinton-Hewitt £70,000 in 2017-18, then £72,100 in 2018-19, and a further £74,263 in 2019-20, according to its accounts filed with the Charity Commission.
These payments, totalling over £216,000, are “for his daily work in promoting Parkrun within the UK and globally, and performing ad hoc services to sponsors, grant providers and the wider community as and when required”, according to the latest annual accounts.
The payments make Sinton-Hewitt the fourth highest-paid person at Parkrun Global, which employs 24 staff.
Civil Society News spoke to Parkrun Global and requested more details about the services provided by Sinton-Hewitt, and the number of days he worked each year, but the charity did not supply any further information.
Parkrun Global had an income of around £5m last year.
Amendments to the charity’s governing document, made in November 2016, state that, while trustees cannot be treated as employees of the charity, this rule “does not apply to the founder, who may be remunerated as an employee of the company”, provided any other payments to trustees are “reasonable” and members of the board agree.
This amendment was signed-off by Sinton-Hewitt himself.
The articles of association also dictate that every trustee must be reappointed each year except Sinton-Hewitt, who can stay on the board permanently.
Parkrun announced last week that it has delayed plans for events to return in England, after failing to secure the agreement of the majority of landowners.
It had hoped to secure enough permissions to restart events in the first week of June, but Parkrun’s partners, including charities like the National Trust and Woodland Trust, will now have until 11 June to formally agree that events can return on their grounds.
Events are scheduled to return on 26 June. Parkrun blamed “unnecessary red tape and lengthy internal bureaucracy at a local level” for the delay.
Nick Pearson, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We will continue to work hard with landowners over the coming weeks to secure the permissions needed to return at the end of June.
“We are incredibly grateful to all of the landowners who have granted events permission to return so far, and for the groundswell of support for Parkrun over recent days.
“Although it is disappointing not to be able to return on 5 June, we are still optimistic that we can return Parkrun events to nearly 600 communities across England very soon.
“We will do everything we can to ensure events restart on 26 June.”
The headline has been updated to make it clear that the payments spanned three years