Charity Commission escalates investigation into The Captain Tom Foundation

The Captain Tom Foundation is facing a statutory inquiry into its management amid concerns around the charity’s independence from the family of record-breaking fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore.

The charity was registered in June 2020 after Captain Moore attracted widespread publicity for his sponsored walk, in aid of NHS charities during Covid lockdown.

His fundraiser raised more than £38m for NHS Charities Together, a record for the most money raised for an individual charity walk.

Captain Tom died at the age of 100-years-old in February 2021 and a month later the regulator opened a case into the charity amid concerns about arrangements between it and a company linked to his family. Other concerns focused on trustees’ decision making and the charity’s governance.

The regulator says it has now escalated this case to a statutory inquiry, amid concerns raised around failures to consider rights around the name ‘Captain Tom’.

This centres on intellectual property and trademark issues of his name when the charity was set up.

According to the Commission the charity provided Club Nook Limited, a company controlled by Captain Tom’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband Colin Ingram-Moore, with the opportunity to trademark the fundraiser’s name, which “may have generated significant profit for the company”.

“The late Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired the nation with his courage, tenacity and concern for others,” said Charity Commission chief executive Helen Stephenson.

“It is vital that public trust in charity is protected, and that people continue to feel confident in supporting good causes.”

She added: “We do not take any decision to open an inquiry lightly, but in this case our concerns have mounted. We consider it in the public interest to examine them through a formal investigation, which gives us access to the full range of our protective and enforcement powers.”

The regulator has also detailed its dealings with the charity during 2021 around Hannah Ingram-Moore’s employment and salary at the charity.

She had been a trustee and in March last year the charity requested permission to hire her on a salary of £60,000 a year for three days a week.

The regulator had requested evidence to back up the request. This was provided but with a revised request to employ her full-time with a £100,000 a year salary.

This was rejected last July as “neither reasonable nor justifiable” but a month later the regulator allowed the charity to hire her as interim CEO on a salary of £85,000 a year for no more than nine months. That period has now ended, and the charity has recruited a new chief executive, Jack Gilbert, who took up the role earlier this month.

The regulator has clarified that money donated to NHS Charities Together was prior to the Foundation’s registration and is not part of this latest inquiry.

The Commission had also looked at potential concerns in the charity's accounts about consultancy fee payments to third parties, but it is satisfied that these expenses were reasonable, and conflicts of interest were “adequately identified and managed”.

Captain Tom Foundation chair Stephen Jones said that the charity "will of course work closely" with the regulator in its inquiry.

He added: "I note that the trustees confirmed with the Commission during the process of registration that the ‘image rights and intellectual property rights of the name were held within a private family trust’, and the Commission were aware that this was always intended to be the case.

“We welcome that the Charity Commission today reports that it is ‘satisfied’ in relation to questions that had been raised about the Foundation’s Annual Report which was published in February, and has concluded that payments were reasonable and that conflicts of interest were identified and managed.”

Gilbert added: "My appointment marks the start of an important period of transformation for the Captain Tom Foundation. With a revitalised and more focussed mission, in coming months we will be announcing an array of charitable activities at both grassroots and national levels that change the way we think, feel and act towards age and ageing, combat ageism, and build meaningful connections between communities and generations.

“Working with the Board, I am using the NCVO-backed Trusted Charities standards to ensure that in all respects, including governance and finance, the Foundation conforms to best practice. These will be externally validated as part of the process.”

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