Press release

Charity Commission removes animal charity trustee who diverted charitable funds into separate organisation

Inquiry finds Action Aid for Animals relied on photos and social media to see work overseas

The Charity Commission has removed a trustee following an inquiry into Action Aid for Animals, which found the charity had diverted funds to a non-charitable organisation and relied on social media for updates on the charity’s work overseas.

Action Aid for Animals was set up to help animals; providing rescue homes and promoting humane behaviour towards animals.

Following a history of nine previous compliance cases into the charity, one of the trustees (Trustee A) admitted at a meeting in 2016 that there was no audit trail of how charitable funds had been spent overseas. Instead the charity relied on photographs and social media messages to show work undertaken abroad.

The Commission therefore opened an inquiry in 2016, which has found evidence of serious mismanagement in the financial management and governance at the charity including:

  • a significant amount of charitable funds which were unaccounted for
  • a high turnover of trustees
  • no dedicated role for managing the finances or administration
  • a persistent failure to file accounts

Trustee A had also established a separate non-charitable organisation called Ticket to Freedom. Trustee A used the charity’s name, logo and registered number to raise funds for Ticket to Freedom. Funds intended for the charity were diverted to this organisation and therefore into Trustee A’s sole control. Trustee A was removed as a trustee of the charity on 27 March 2018 and, as a result, is disqualified from acting as a trustee of this and any other charity.

The charity’s remaining trustees decided to continue operating the charity. They are now in control of the charity’s bank accounts, have updated their accounting information and submitted their recent accounts.

Amy Spiller, Head of Investigations Team at the Charity Commission, said:

Trustees have a responsibility to carefully steward funds in the best interests of their charity to maximise their positive impact on society. Knowing how and where money is being spent, especially when funding comes from generous donations from the public, is clearly a necessity for charities.

Action Aid for Animals let the public down by failing to take sufficient control of their charity’s money. It’s right that we have removed a trustee responsible for this failure.

Since the Commission’s intervention the remaining trustees have undertaken measures to improve their control of the charity. We expect the charity to continue to undertake their responsibilities with care.

The full report is available on GOV.UK.


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Published 30 April 2019