Camila Batmanghelidjh’s Kids Company is being investigated over claims that thousands of pounds of the charity’s money was spent on paying the boarding school costs of her chauffeur’s daughter.

Sorry?

Late last night Batmanghelidjh contacted The Mail on Sunday to say she could prove to the Charity Commission that no money had been paid by Kids Company to the school to cover academic fees because they had been covered by the school in the form of a bursary.
It is understood the bursary covered the cost of boarding fees, not ‘extras’ and other costs incurred by the girl at the school.
When asked why her charity’s accounts had shown thousands of pounds being paid to the school on behalf of the girl, who was listed as a client of the charity, Batmanghelidjh said: ‘I don’t have the accounts in front of me. I don’t know what those figures relate to.’
A source who until recently worked at the charity said last night: ‘I can confirm that Ms Cavolli was registered as a client at Kids Company, and that Kids Company funds were spent supporting her while she was at school.’ It is understood that the amount paid was a five-figure sum.

A charity nominally devoted to deprived children ran to pay for a chauffeur for the boss?

Srsly?

44 thoughts on “You what?”

  1. There was a time when I thought they were doing good work. Normally I’m old and sceptical if not downright cynical. Every so often though, I let my guard down, and when I do…

    I feel like the guy who just got cider in his ear.

  2. Paying the extras required to send your chauffeur’s smart daughter to boarding school is absolutely the perfect example of the kind of thing Lady Bountiful would do and regard as a wonderful and beautiful act.

    But she would have done it out of Lord Bountiful’s money earned in the Colonies and deposited in the 3% consols, rather than out of charity donations!

  3. Nothing I’ve seen describing Ms Batmanghelidjh’s activities, views, self-publicity and other public statements goes any way to indicate that she doesn’t see this (both the chauffeur and the support of the daughter) as part of her righteous entitlement.

  4. Indeed, the primary story here is the fact that she has a chauffeur. What’s the betting the MSM never gets its teeth into that point? Not that the thing about the school fees is trivial, but one thing at a time, please.

  5. Don’t forget her 6 PAs, required round-the-clock and operating in shifts because she has “learning difficulties” and can’t write an email.

  6. BiCR, no. And if they are, they will be of low- level staffers. Camila has mixed with the great and the good. They protect their own.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    We used to have a tax payer funded scheme to help the brightest children of the poor go to top schools, it was ended by the sort of people who are angriest at the closing of Kids Company.

  8. @Edward Lud: If Camila has severe learning difficulties to the point that she cannot use a computer, then she would not be able to pass the written driving test (OK, multi choice test!), let alone the practical. So she would need to have some drive her.

    Of course most of us use taxis in this situation. Or maybe Uber if it is still legal in this country. Or, in a pinch,a bus.

    Then again, maybe a bicycle would have been a better choice in her case. I mean, it looks like Camila could have done with the exercise.

  9. Trains, buses (tubes if available) – isn’t that what most people do.

    “maybe a bicycle would have been a better choice”

    That’s brilliant! Can you picture it..;) “Mummy, what’s that – over there on that bicylcle?”

  10. “she never took public transport because she didn’t like to walk long distances.’

    In London? You have to walk “long distances” in order to use public transport in London? My guess is her definition of “long distance” will be “anything over a quarter of a mile”.

  11. Some of the cycling team kits you see people wearing these days, the appearance wouldn’t be that remarkable, except team kits tend to be more aerodynamic.

  12. What we know:
    The accounts to 31/12/2014 are due for filing on 30/9/15
    The company has a history of financial impropriety
    Oliver Letwin signed off £3 million a few weeks ago against Civil Service advice
    The company is now being wound up
    What we can deduce
    The accounts of a charity with high profile trustees will be audited at least 3 months after the year end. Getting a quorum of these people in the summer is not possible
    The accounts could not be signed off
    The £3 million was needed to fill a hole for which the trustees would have been liable
    If the accounts could not be signed off, then for whatever reason that was, the insolvency administrator would have been required to compile a report on the activities of the management and trustees
    If there is no financial black hole it is possible that the insovency administrator could be persuaded that no such report is required.

    My personal conclusion to all that lot is that some trustee(s) have an in with Cameron, who, as usual, is using a front man.

    It should not be beyond the wit of some journalist to establish who the trustee(s) is and what is the connection.

    Sod the chauffeur. What is the Prime Minister doing with public money to pay off a charity’s debts for personal reasons?

  13. If she has severe learning difficulties then what the fuck is she doing running a company with a turnover of tens of millions of pounds much of which appears to be government grants?

  14. john miller,

    “Sod the chauffeur. What is the Prime Minister doing with public money to pay off a charity’s debts for personal reasons?”

    Yeah. Especially as the minister at the DofE and the civil service raised reservations about this.

    Still, more of this shit against Batmanarkhamknight and maybe if a couple more high profile charities get the media’s eye on them and we can get it cleaned up. I don’t put a penny in a tin until I’ve vetted a charity because I know that there’s a lot of PR about what they do that often doesn’t reflect the reality of what they do.

  15. How chillaxed was Cameron when he made this decision? Could the minutes of the meeting be made public? I’m assuming this decision was taken in a formal meeting. You wouldn’t want a Prime Minister pissing away £3m of public money on a personal whim at the breakfast table, for example, or at 11.30 at night.

  16. bloke (not) in spain

    It’s been an education watching the mobile 3-seat sofa do media interviews. She makes it quite plain she should only be held accountable to those standards she sets herself & seems mystified there might be any others.

    Why does she keep making me think of Herman Goering?

  17. I hope it’s not just Batmanjelly who’s in the soup: Yentob needs investigation too, at the very least by the BBC governors.

  18. bloke (not) in spain

    I’m also wondering if we should be referring to her £40k p/a chaufeur described as “so close to Batmanghelidjh that she treated him ‘like a member of her family” as the intrepid Mr Cavolli.
    You’d need to be, wouldn’t you?

  19. john miller said:

    My personal conclusion to all that lot is that some trustee(s) have an in with Cameron, who, as usual, is using a front man.

    Samantha Cameron visits children’s project

    And from page 6 of this 2011 Kids Company newsletter:

    With the amazing help of Samantha Cameron we are launching our own Child Poverty Busting Programme, which will match 5,000 chilren with 5,000 poverty busting solutions, including practical support and mentors where appropriate. In the first year we expect to make £5million worth of volunteer time and resources available to our children.

    Special thanks go to Jo Malone, James and Beatrice Lupton, and Simon and Sally Borrows for their incredible financial and personal support, in launching our poverty busting programme.

    And then quotes Samantha Cameron saying

    I’ve been to see what they do at Kids Company and it’s brillant because it is so simple. They give children all those vital things they are lacking at home, from practical things like help with their homework to the emotional things like a cuddle or proper chat about how school’s going.

    Interestingly, the one directly available from Kids Company (pdf) doesn’t mention Jo Malone, the Luptons or the Burrows except in a long list of supporters at the end of it.

  20. From another 2011 Kids Company newsletter (pdf), page 5 says:

    We were also very lucky to be receiving a grant from the Department of Education to replace the one given under Labour. We will be working with 720 exceptionally high risk 13 – 19 year olds over two years.

    A big thank you to David Cameron, Tim Loughton and all the incredible civil servants who scrutinised our applications and advocated on behalf of our children.

  21. And this remember was meant to be exemplary of Call Me Dave’s “Big Society”.

    Laydies and Gennermen, we proudly present: the new bourgeoisie!

  22. Might be worth noting that it was Attlee’s personal experience of working in this kind of social reform charity that motivated him to set up the Welfare State so that people wouldn’t be in the clutches of private individuals with selfish interests like Ms. BatmanJelly.

    There is undoubtedly a “charitable impulse” in people to some degree; but people who go into charity often do so with selfish desires, not least the control of those who need their help. Or it may be political campaigning. Or it may just be personal enrichment, empire building or showing off.

    Will “lessons be learned”? I doubt it.

  23. I see Snodgrass and raise him “out of the money that Lord Bountiful gave her to buy dresses”.Which is actually more likely.

  24. @ Ian B
    Do you mean “often” as in “they are often race-walkers beating slow runners in the London Marathon”? I used to be pestered annually by one such person [I should, for avoidance of doubt, say that this was *not* Arthur Thomson, who at 75+ beat the “good for your age” standard for V70 runners by 15 minutes – I should cheerfully have subscribed to almost any charityhe supported].

    There are a few people to go into “Charity” for selfish motives. Having, before I was married, been the Hon Treasurer of nearly a dozen charities, and an active supporter since then of as many more, I have only run into one such person in small charities. In all big organisations, including charities, nasty people can weasel their way into power – when charities were run by unpaid volunteers, like my mother, there was little temptation to infiltrate charities. When some pay the CEO more than the PM, the temptatiopn ballooons.

  25. John77-

    “Often” in the sense that since the Victorian Era, big charity has routinely been a front for some kind of reform, campaigning, etc.

  26. The Meissen Bison

    Dearieme: Yentob needs investigation too, at the very least by the BBC governors.

    Indeed and not just by the BBC trustees.

    He looks to have been a Kids Co trustee for donkeys’ years while the rules are quite clear that the term a trustee serves should be limited to three or four years. The idea of rotation is precisely to prevent this type of malpractice going undetected.

  27. Ian B,

    The problem is that the “Big Society” vision is the worst of all worlds. Government money, but with the sort of loose accountability of charities.

  28. @ Ian B
    Not often before Tony Blair changed the rules. When I was young Amnesty International was denied Charitable status because it lobbied for changes in the law.
    I think that your perspective has been distorted by the New Labour era. When I was a kid, the big flag days were RNLI and Poppy Day.

  29. The Meissen Bison

    The Sigler: with the sort of loose accountability of charities

    Yes, it’s not the financial accountability so much, because that’s quite controlled and strict, so much as being accountable to their donors and doing primarily what they are perceived to be for.

    In any case, government intervention crowds out society, big or otherwise.

    I object to Cameron putting his hand into my pocket in order to contribute to what he considers a good cause.

  30. The Meissen Bison,

    “Yes, it’s not the financial accountability so much, because that’s quite controlled and strict, so much as being accountable to their donors and doing primarily what they are perceived to be for.”

    I’m not saying what should and shouldn’t be charity or state. But I believe in accountability. If I give money to government, I expect that someone should be marched into a meeting to account for what’s happening to money, to be able to write an FOI request for information. That’s what you should expect when it’s taken under threat of violence.

    On the other hand, charities are about giving when you feel like it. If an organisation doesn’t do what you like, don’t give to them. If you’re suspicious that they’re spending money in ways you don’t like, ask them questions. If you don’t like the answers, don’t give to them.

    The “Big Society” is the worst of both worlds. Threat of violence for money, but then thrown at charities to vaguely do their work. No FOI requests. No accountability.

  31. How much was the chauffeur paid?

    I can see an argument that if she was travelling a lot and saves time door to door, her time meeting the great and good being very valuable for her charity, that a chauffeur could be justified. Not saying it definitely was a bargain but it’s a cost benefit analysis.

    I wonder if the bursary may have been an attempt to pay the chauffeur in a tax-efficient way. “Pay me £5k less and give my daughter a bursary instead”… chauffeur saves a grand or two in tax, and the charity saves on NI contributions. Justify it as a discretionary grant – looks funny but almost impossible to prove wrongdoing.

  32. Bloke in Costa Rica

    At a given civil service rank, one would presumably have the services of a driver at one’s disposal. Just like the Armed Forces have rank equivalents so you know who salutes first, I wouldn’t mind betting that Ms Barrageballoon saw herself as a fairly high-falutin’ member of the apparat. If a departmental Director gets a car, then so does she.

  33. “At a given civil service rank, one would presumably have the services of a driver at one’s disposal. ”

    I suspect the chauffeur is more of an Iranian heritage thing. All businessmen and other bigwigs have a driver/gopher in Tehran, possibly because of the traffic, probably because of the capriciousness of the courts in case of third party liability, and almost certainly to take the flak when pulled over by the basiji (religious police)

  34. BiCR,

    “At a given civil service rank, one would presumably have the services of a driver at one’s disposal.”

    *Very* high rank in my experience (trading fund of nearly 4,000 CS, annual budget north of £300 million, don’t think even our top manager has a driver assigned…)

  35. At a given civil service rank, one would presumably have the services of a driver at one’s disposal

    One of the few things Cameron actually did to save money was to cut the Government Car Service.

    In the lower reaches of the MoD, it is still pretty common, though. Most Commanding Officers (and commanders of Groups, Brigades and Divisions) will have access to a staff car and a driver (or a duty driver.) In the Army, the CO’s staff car driver is likely to also be his wartime command vehicle driver.

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