Regulator launches statutory inquiry into transgender charity Mermaids

The Charity Commission has escalated its investigation into transgender youth charity Mermaids due to “newly identified issues about the charity’s governance and management”.

The announcement has been made days after Mermaids chief executive Susie Green left the charity.

The regulator had opened a compliance case into the charity in September to investigation allegations of safeguarding failures but has now formalised its investigation engagement by opening a statutory inquiry.

“The Commission will investigate the regulatory issues to determine whether they indicate serious systemic failing in the charity’s governance and management,” said the regulator in a statement.

“The trustees have fully cooperated with the regulator’s case, but their response has not provided the necessary reassurance or satisfied the Commission at this stage.

“The regulator will seek to determine whether the charity’s governance is appropriate in relation to the activities the charity carries out, which involve vulnerable children and young people, as well as their families.”

Being looked at is the charity’s administration, governance, and management, including its leadership and culture.

Whether trustees have fulfilled their duties including overseeing the charity’s activities is also being looked. The Commission will also consider whether there has been any misconduct or mismanagement by trustees.

Mermaids has said it will “cooperate fully, openly and with complete transparency with the Charity Commission as its inquiry gets underway”.

It added: “Earlier this year Mermaids decided to carry out a frank and honest appraisal of our internal culture and how we measure up in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion.

“As part of this process, we commissioned an independent external report which highlighted a number of significant challenges for us.

“We know we must do better and we are absolutely committed to doing so, and will be implementing the report’s recommendations as a priority.

“The charity has an unwavering commitment to safeguarding which is, and always will be, our top priority.”

Green’s departure was announced late last month by the charity’s chair Belinda Bell who praised her work leading the charity over the six years “to support trans, non-binary and gender diverse young people and their families”.

The compliance case into the charity was launched amid concerns raised around chest binders being made available to young people without their parents’ consent.

In addition, the charity detailed how “an individual – possible a journalist” tried to gain access to its online forums posing as a teenager.

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