Interim managers for think tank amid possible unauthorised benefit probe

Charity

The Charity Commission has appointed interim managers to a charitable think tank amid concerns about possible unauthorised benefits to trustees. 

The regulator said it had opened a statutory inquiry into the Centre for Global Studies in August because of regulatory concerns including potential conflicts of interest and the handling of expenses. 

It said it had appointed Sarah Tomlinson and Edwina Turner of Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP as interim managers to the exclusion of the charity’s trustees.

The pair have been asked to conduct a review of the centre’s governance and administration and make recommendations to the commission.

It is understood the trustees have appealed against the decision to appoint interim managers. 

The Centre for Global Studies is a London-based think tank that seeks to improve education and public understanding of economics through publishing research and organising educational events.

It is chaired by the crossbench peer Lord Robert Skidelsky, who is joined on the charity’s board by his wife Augusta and Christopher Phillips.

Its main activity in 2021/22 was  “to provide research support for Robert Skidelsky’s major writing project”, according to the most recent published accounts.

The centre received a single donation of £100,000 and spent about £60,000 in 2021/22 with £46,000 spent on staff salaries, the accounts show. 

Asked why the regulator had only just announced the opening of the inquiry in August, a spokesperson referred Third Sector to policy stating that the commission “will not announce that it is opening an inquiry if it considers it would not be in the public interest or there are other reasons why it is not appropriate to do so”.

The Charity Commission said it is trying to identify whether trustees managed potential conflicts of interests at the charity and whether unauthorised benefits were available to the board or other people connected to the centre.

The inquiry is also examining financial controls at the charity, including its accounting and how expense payments have been handled.

The accounts show that one trustee was paid £15,000 in expenses in 2021/22 covering “travel and subsistence”.

Lord Skidelsky did not respond to a request for comment.

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