First asylum seekers arrive on Bibby Stockholm barge
The organisation that sparked Government fury by blocking migrants from boarding the Bibby Stockholm barge has been found guilty of “several instances of misconduct and/or mismanagement” by the Charity Commission for England and Wales.
An investigation was launched into Care4Calais in August 2020, amid concerns about payments to connected parties, detailed in the charity’s accounts.
The regulator also identified concerns around whether those acting as charity trustees were validly appointed, and raised questions about former trustees’ decision-making.
The Charity Commission has now said Care4Calais lacked requisite governance structures, had poor internal financial controls, and inadequately handled complaints.
The group sparked outrage earlier this month after they claimed responsibility for stopping 20 migrants from being sent to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset.
READ MORE: Tory fury after left wing charity blocks migrants boarding the Bibby Stockholm
Care4Calais released a statement on August 8 boasting: “None of the asylum seekers we are supporting have gone to the Bibby Stockholm today as legal representatives have had their transferred cancelled”.
Responding to the report, Conservative Party vice chair Lee Anderson has said: “It’s no surprise that the Care4Calais circus is such a shambles.”
He added: “They are an embarrassing stain on the record of real charities.
“Having met these clowns in Calais last year I know that all these bleeding-heart lefties are good for is holding hands and singing Kumbaya.
“They should really spend less time on their woke pedestal and more time getting their shoddy affairs in order.”
Suella Braverman also blasted the charity, saying the group is “a con”: “The Charities Commission finding several instances of misconduct at Care4Calais is concerning but not particularly surprising.
“As with certain immigration lawyers, it’s clear that some charities and civil society groups are actively undermining efforts to curb illegal migration. They form part of an establishment committed to ever increasing migration, with no regard for the will of the British people.
“These groups are comprised of politically motivated activists masquerading as ‘humanitarians’. It is a con. But the British public won’t be fooled.”
Orlando Fraser KC, Chairman of the Charity Commission, said the body’s inquiry found that “over a significant period of time, and following a rapid expansion of its operations, Care4Calais was not managed well. Its funds were put at risk, and there was serious misconduct and/or mismanagement by the former trustees”.
Between October 2017 and August 2020, payments of over £340,000 were made to a personal bank account belonging to one of Care4Calais’ now-former trustees, leading to the commission using its powers to restrict financial transactions between the charity and current or former trustees.
The commission concluded that the transfer of cash was inappropriate, but did not see evidence funds had been misused or misappropriated for the ex-trustee’s private benefit.
They also found that between 2020 and 2021, Care4Calais operated with just two trustees – below the minimum number stipulated in its governing document.
This was found to be misconduct and/or mismanagement.
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As part of an action plan draw up last year, a new CEO took lead of the charity in April this year, and the Charity Commission says the group “continues to progress recommendations for improvement”.
Mr Fraser said the commission’s intervention had let to “significant improvements” in Care4Calais’ performance.
Hours after successfully blocking the transfer of migrants onto the Bibby Stockholm, a Government source accused Care4Calais of having links with Labour, and serving to prove the swathe of left-wing opposition the Conservatives are having to battle.
They said: “This just shows what we are up against: Labour-linked charities and lawyers are repeatedly trying to stop us from moving illegal migrants out of expensive hotels. Other European countries use barges safely and at lower costs than hotels.”
Dame Priti Patel told the Express: “These campaign groups and lawyers who are milking the legal aid system, show no interest in tackling challenges caused by the number of asylum seekers coming here and the vile activities of the evil criminal gangs who smuggle them into the UK.
“They are only interested in profiteering from this human misery and showing contempt to the taxpaying law-abiding majority who rightly have said enough is enough.”
The Charity Commission reviewed Care4Calais’ political and campaigning activity as part of its inquiry, and concluded it is “within the range of reasonable decisions” open to the organisation; adding their political campaigning serves to “further the charity’s objects”.
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