Kids Company bosses Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob face boardroom bans amid probe into charity’s collapse
- Kids Company collapsed in 2015 just after getting a £3m grant from Government
- In 15 years, Kids Company took a reported £42million from the taxpayer
- Batmanghelidjh reportedly paid £90,000 salary when Kids Company went down
- Mr Yentob forced to step down as the BBC’s creative director in December 2015
Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob face being disqualified from running companies after the Kids Company charity scandal, it was revealed today.
The Insolvency Service has announced it will bring court proceedings against them.
It has the power to ban any senior officials from organisations that have liquidated from taking similar positions for up to 15 years if their management contributed to insolvency.
Kids Company collapsed in August 2015, amid allegations of abuse and financial mismanagement, casting doubts on Mr Yentob’s ability as its chairman.
Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob (pictured together) face being disqualified from running companies after the Kids Company charity scandal
Experts have said that any business ban could be very damaging for those involved.
Nick Moser, head of Corporate Recovery at Taylor Wessing, said: ‘Disqualifications of directors are not as common as people might think. Because of limited resources at the Insolvency Service, they usually only follow a high value or high profile collapse.
‘However, Kids Company is a collapse which was always going to be under public scrutiny and I doubt the directors will be surprised to be investigated. Even a 6 year disqualification – which is significantly less than the 15 year maximum – is serious and will have a major impact on the business lives of those concerned if that is the outcome’.
Mr Yentob was forced to step down as the BBC’s creative director in December 2015 after admitting that his involvement in the Kids Company scandal had become a ‘serious distraction’ to the broadcaster.
He had been accused of compromising the BBC’s impartiality on five separate occasions by meddling with its coverage of the failed charity.
Mr Yentob piled pressure on journalists and presenters as they were preparing to go to air with their reports on Kids Company, of which he was chairman.
He personally telephoned Newsnight executives twice ahead of investigations into the failed charity, and sat silently in the Radio 4 Today programme studio during an interview with its founder, Camila Batmanghelidjh.
His resignation was met with gleeful cries in the BBC newsroom, which has been at the sharp end of Mr Yentob’s interference.
The charity collapsed in 2015, just weeks after it was handed a £3million grant by David Cameron’s government.
In 15 years, Kids Company took a reported £42million from the taxpayer, but a damning 2016 report showed ‘catastrophic failures’.
Batmanghelidjh was reportedly paying herself a £90,000 salary at the time that Kids Company went under.
An investigation was also carried out over claims that thousands of pounds of the charity’s money was spent on paying the boarding school costs of her chauffeur’s daughter.
The charity collapsed in 2015, just weeks after it was handed a £3million grant by David Cameron’s government
Soon after, Yentob resigned as the BBC’s creative director in the wake of controversy over his role as chairman of the scandal-hit group.
Kids Company’s founder Ms Batmanghelidjh had ministers ‘in her thrall’ and her ‘powerful personality’ allowed her to become an expert at controlling people, a senior Tory MP said last year.
Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the influential Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), said the controversial charity boss deliberately prevented information reaching trustees – including ministers.
A report published by the committee last January urged the BBC to reopen its investigation into Alan Yentob, the former chairman of Kids Company, after he was accused of ‘deliberately intimidating’ corporation staff during the collapse of the scandal-hit charity.
The MPs said his meddling in the BBC’s coverage of Kids Company had been ‘unwise at best, and deliberately intimidating at worst’. And they said BBC bosses were too slow to take action against Mr Yentob.
In a damning assessment of Batmanghelidjh, Mr Jenkin told the Today programme: ‘The founder of this charity was a very, very powerful personality, who had a very, very big vision and she became expert at controlling the people around her and even the trustees were in her thrall to an extent’.
Accusing the charity’s trustees of negligence, he added: ‘People sometimes chose trustees to be very nice and well-motivated people, but who don’t necessarily have expertise in the sector they’re dealing with.’
Mr Jenkin suggested that allegations of sexual abuse in the charity – which ultimately did not lead to any prosecutions – were ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ and led to the charity losing its reputation.
The charity, which aimed to support deprived and vulnerable inner-city children, received £46million of government funding over 13 years including £3million days before it collapsed last August.
The Commons committee admitted in its report: ‘Ms Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company appeared to captivate some of the most senior political figures in the land.’
HOW ALAN YENTOB CONFRONTED BBC COLLEAGUES OVER KIDS COMPANY FUNDING SCANDAL
Alan Yentob (right in the Calais jungle) was forced to apologise after repeated clashes with BBC colleagues over Kids Company
His first intervention came when he called Newsnight on July 2 2015 as it was preparing to reveal that the Government was withholding £3million of funding from Kids Company, which folded on Wednesday.
The following day he turned up uninvited at Radio 4’s Today studio as charity founder Camila Batmanghelidjh was interviewed.
On the Thursday he tore into BBC News special correspondent Lucy Manning ahead of an investigation into allegations of abuse at the charity, but he later apologised.
Then, more than a month later – and after the initial controversy – Mr Yentob telephoned Radio 4 presenter Ed Stourton, 45 minutes before he was due to go on World At One with an item about Kids Company.
Mr Yentob insisted there is no conflict of interest because he does not have control over BBC News. ‘I’m not remotely considering my position at the BBC. I don’t think I’ve in any way abused my position at the BBC,’ he said in October 2015.
Mr Yentob admitted the interventions and said he ‘regrets’ any intimidation to BBC journalists, but insisted that he did not compromise the BBC’s editorial independence.
The BBC faced mounting pressure to axe Mr Yentob, amid concerns that he has abused his position at the corporation to promote Kids Company, and that his failures as chairman have now made him ‘toxic by association’.
Among the most embarrassing episodes, was the ‘hysterical’ letter signed by Mr Yentob and sent to ministers as the charity was negotiating for more Government funding.
It warned that without Kids Company there could be ‘arson attacks’ on Government buildings, rioting in the streets and ‘savagery’ in parts of Britain.
However, Mr Yentob compounded the embarrassment when he told MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee that a boy had been murdered because of the charity’s collapse.