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The Full Story Of Kids Company's Fall

After receiving £ 46 million of public money, the south London kids charity collapsed in August 2015 following a series of shocking reports. This is how it unfolded.

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THE KEY EVENTS

THE WARNING SIGNS

  • There are complaints from some local residents about Kids Company’s first centre. The charity says it has only had two criminal complaints, which were both dealt with.
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  • The Daily Mail reports that residents have lodged an array of objections after it emerged that planning permission for a centre in Southwark run by Kids Company, a charity aimed at helping disadvantaged youth in London, was not sought when it was opened five years earlier. One resident says: “I’ve been spat at, verbally abused and had stones thrown at me.”
  • In response, Camila Batmanghelijh, the charity’s founder and chief executive, says locals have come to her about only two crimes: the theft of a Walkman that she ensured was returned, and a broken window that she mended, and says: “We were given the land by Railtrack and we simply did not realise we needed planning permission to run Kids Company from the site.”
  • Southwark council’s decision not to grant retrospective planning permission is fought all the way to the court of appeal after a public inquiry and a high court hearing. In 2003 a council enforcement notice requiring it to cease using the premises is issued.
  • Is this the end for our own Mother Teresa?
    Pages 54 and 55, Daily Mail, 9 August 2001. Not available for free online; text available through Lexis Nexis for subscribers.
    Paul Bracchi for the Daily Mail (lexisnexis.co.uk)
  • Author and journalist Harriet Sergeant visits a Kids Company centre. A decade later in 2015, she will provide details of the events she witnessed during the visit in written evidence to the Commons public administration committee (PACAC).
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  • According to Sergeant’s written evidence to PACAC in 2015, she is invited in 2005 to visit a Kids Company centre by Camila Batmanghelidjh for research purposes. Sergeant had been told that about 500 kids visited the centre a week and 50 or 60 a day for its nutritious meals, education, and massage. Instead of kids "pouring in" though, she will tell PACAC, during her first visit there is just one sulky teenager, over whom 10 staff hover solicitously, while during a subsequent visit there are only 20 young people present. Sergeant will also give evidence to PACAC about witnessing envelopes of money being handed out by staff to the young people present at the centre.
  • Written evidence from Harriet Sergeant to PACAC
    "I first met Camila Batmanghelidjh ten years ago..."
    Harriet Sergeant (parliament.uk)
  • Two Kids Company adverts are banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, which describes them as “offensive” and “racist”. The charity says the poster was designed to "confront superficial judgments and prejudices".
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  • One of the adverts, a billboard poster says: "You are right – kids who can kill really are wrong in the head," beneath a picture of four black teenagers. The advert, according to the ASA, makes misleading claims about a supposed link between emotional development, brain size, and violent behaviour.
  • A second advert, showing two black teenagers harassing a white man reinforced negative stereotypes and was therefore "racist", the ASA ruled.
  • ASA raps 'racist' poster for kids' charity
    Kids Company's advert showing black teenagers harassing a white man reinforced negative stereotypes, watchdog rules
    Chris Tryhorn for The Guardian (theguardian.com)
  • A Freedom of Information request raises questions about Kids Company research.
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  • The FOI request was made to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust in relation to a 2008 study it conducted with Kids Company in which 10 children aged between 10 and 14 were given brain and MRI scans. The charity assessed whether these children’s behaviour was “antisocial”. As part of the FOI request the Hospital was asked whether consent had been obtained for MRI brain scans conducted on the children.
  • The FOI response says: “the parents/carers (sic) consent for the MRI brain scan was obtained as part of the overall consent for the child to participate in the study”. However, it goes on: “Where it was not possible to contact the child’s parent/carer, the child’s keyworker from the Kids Company signed the consent form.”
  • Brian [sic] scans in children and Kids Company
    Freedom of Information request to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust
    FOI request by Ann McNeil (whatdotheyknow.com)
  • A former employee goes on record on the website of OSCA, a consultancy, to express concerns about Kids Company.
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  • Genevieve Maitland Hudson, who joined the charity in 2008, writes that on Fridays, “little packages of cash were handed out to every young person through a small window in reception. It was always tense. There were tears. There was shouting. There were threats. There were fights.”
  • She also raises questions about the number of clients the charity claims to help, pointing out that there is a discrepancy between the charity’s annual report and a government contract, though she also describes it as a “minor quibble”.
  • We need to talk about Kids Company
    "There were tears. There was shouting. There were threats. There were fights."
    Genevieve Maitland Hudson for OSCA (osca.co)
  • The Spectator publishes an article called “The Trouble With Kids Company” by the freelance journalist Miles Goslett, which reveals a complaint from a donor to the Charity Commission.
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  • Goslett reports how an elderly benefactor, Joan Woolard, sold her house in order to donate to the charity, but ended up complaining to the Charity Commission in order to demand back the money.
  • Woolard expresses a similar concern about payments to that flagged days earlier by Hudson, saying: “I don’t think private donors or the government give Kids Company money so that it can be handed out to young people in cash?”
  • In response to this allegation, Batmanghelidjh says: “Money is only spent on the most destitute of our clients,” and expresses concerns about Woolard’s mental health.
  • The Trouble With Kids Company
    It’s a favourite charity of David Cameron and many celebrities. But does it do what it claims to do?
    Miles Goslett for The Spectator (spectator.co.uk)
  • Goslett reports in the Sunday Times that three directors of the charity have resigned.
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  • The directors who have quit are Diane Hamilton, the charity’s interim finance director; Adrian Stones, the charity’s human resources chief; and Mandy Lloyd, the charity’s director of development.
  • The charity issues a statement, saying: “It was with great regret that they felt unable to continue working within the organisation because of the uncertainty of funding, which led to high levels of stress in the workplace which was unsustainable.”
  • But the Sunday Times quotes a source close to the directors who says: “These departures are a direct result of these employees’ doubts about the future of Kids Company ... The trustees were told of their doubts but they don’t seem to have reacted at all.”
  • The story also quotes Dominic Cummings, a former Department for Education adviser, who says officials from the department had questioned the financial management of the charity saying they “did not think taxpayers’ money should be given to it”, but were overturned by David Cameron, the prime minister.
  • Kids Company directors quit over stress and funding concerns
    Three directors of Kids Company have resigned amid claims of concerns about its funding and “high levels of stress within the workplace”.
    Miles Goslett for the Sunday Times (thesundaytimes.co.uk)

    THE FALL

  • A joint investigation by BBC Newsnight and BuzzFeed News reveals that the government is withholding money from Kids Company unless chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh steps aside.
  • Government Refusing Funding To Kids Company Charity Unless Boss Is Removed
    A joint investigation by Newsnight and BuzzFeed News has revealed the Cabinet Office is withholding funding from the charity unless Camila Batmanghelidjh steps aside.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • The next day, it is confirmed Batmanghelidjh will step aside in the near future. She blames the “ugly games” of politicians, and singles out David Cameron for blame.
  • Kids Company Boss Steps Down As Chief Executive And Attacks David Cameron
    Camila Batmanghelidjh says she is being “silenced” over government cuts.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Batmanghelidjh says the government is “blackmailing her”.
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  • She tells BBC Newsnight that if the charity loses funding then she will “have to deal with the fact the government is blackmailing a charity for no reason”.
  • Kids Company Boss Says Government Is “Blackmailing” Her
    In an interview with Newsnight Camila Batmanghelidjh defended her record as head of the high-profile charity and dismissed accusations of financial mismanagement.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • The Mail on Sunday alleges that Kids Company was forced to call in the official receiver after running out of funds with which to pay staff at some point in June. The charity did not respond to the newspaper at the time.
  • Mystery over claim that Kids Company couldn't pay staff
    Britain's most high-profile charity chief refuses to respond to new allegations of financial chaos within her organisation.
    Miles Goslett / Simon Walters for the Mail on Sunday (dailymail.co.uk)
  • The Mail on Sunday reveals that in 2003, £589,000 of unpaid tax arrears from Kids Company to HMRC were written off. A Kids Company spokesperson tells the paper: “The HMRC recognised that their actions made a significant contribution towards helping support some of society's most at-risk children.”
  • Mystery of charity's unpaid £700,000 tax bill
    Kids Company took money from staff but it was waived by the taxman
    Miles Goslett and Glen Owen for the Mail on Sunday (dailymail.co.uk)
  • Government letters confirm that ministers overruled civil servants’ concerns to give the charity a £3 million grant.
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  • A letter published on the government’s website shows that the Cabinet Office’s permanent secretary, Richard Heaton, wrote to ministers Matt Hancock and Oliver Letwin to raise his concerns about the charity.
  • The charity had received a grant of £4.265 million in April from the government, which stipulated that it would be the last payment of the financial year and encouraged the charity “to move to a more financially sustainable model”. Instead, Kids Company had asked for an extra £3 million. Heaton’s letter was a request for ministerial direction – essentially a way of raising concerns about the charity. Hancock and Letwin overruled him.
  • “The proposed additional £3m grant does not represent value for money”
    Letter from Richard Heaton (gov.uk)
  • BuzzFeed News reports that Camila Batmanghelidjh has set a timetable for her departure, and will step aside from her role as chief executive of the charity in October.
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  • In a statement, Alan Yentob, the chair of the charity’s trustees, says: “Over the last 19 years Kids Company has developed a highly effective model for the delivery of practical and emotional support for vulnerable children and young people.”
  • Camila Batmanghelidjh To Step Down From Kids Company Role In October
    The government told the charity it would receive an additional £3 million of funding only if its boss stepped aside.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight confirm that the Met police’s complex case team of the sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command is investigating Kids Company. In January the investigation will end and the police will say they found no evidence of criminality that would reach the threshold to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.
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  • The investigation comes after whistleblowers alleged that potentially criminal offences – the details of which are not revealed until a week later – occurred in two of its centres and were not reported to the proper authorities.
  • BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight had been approached by a former staff member at the charity who said she had been involved in a failure to notify the authorities of allegations of rape and that she knew about complaints to staff from older clients.
  • We were also told about an incident in which a staff member was said to have been knocked unconscious by a client in an attack with snooker ball and was encouraged not to press charges.
  • After advice was sought from a child protection expert, both outlets passed on the information to the local authority with relevant child protection responsibilities. Following the authority’s investigation, it was then escalated to New Scotland Yard, which opened a full inquiry.
  • Six months later, the Met would close the inquiry, saying it found “no evidence of criminality ... to justify a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service”.
  • Police Investigating Alleged Unreported Criminal Activity At Kids Company Centres
    The investigation was sparked by evidence handed to the authorities by BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Kids Company signals that it is to shut down. Sources reveal to BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight that the charity is likely to close its doors the following day.
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  • It is revealed that the government is attempting to claw back the contentious £3 million grant. Unverified leaked emails and information from sources suggest the charity may have used the contentious money it received from government to pay staff rather than to restructure as intended.
  • The Daily Mail also claims that Alan Yentob – both the chair of the Kids Company’s trustees and a senior BBC executive – phoned Newsnight before it went to air with its first report on Kids Company. A BBC spokesperson says the fact the BBC broke the story "shows our journalism has been impartial".
  • The paper also claims that Yentob joined Batmanghelidjh at the Today programme’s studios the following morning.
  • Officials Warned Kids Company Could Shut Down On Wednesday
    The decision comes as the charity is being investigated for potentially criminal offences by the Metropolitan police.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Alan Yentob 'tried to halt' BBC probe into Kids Company
    Corporation’s £330,000-a-year creative director phoned Newsnight staff hours before it aired damning report
    Katherine Rushton and Miles Goslett for the Daily Mail (dailymail.co.uk)
  • Camila Batmanghelidjh confirms that the charity has shut its doors. She says: “A bunch of rumour-mongering civil servants, ill-spirited ministers, and the media, on the back of a load of rumours, put the nail in this organisation.”
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  • Protests take place outside Kids Company centres, with clients and families mourning the charity’s closure. “My keyworker is everything,” a woman tells BuzzFeed News. “I speak to them every day. They’re a huge part of my life.”
  • Meanwhile, David Cameron is further implicated in charity’s funding. Former Department for Education adviser Dominic Cummings tells Channel 4 News that the prime minister personally ordered payments to go to Kids Company despite officials at the department expressing their misgivings. Downing Street denies his account.
  • An anonymous figure involved in funding talks tells the BBC that Cameron was "mesmerised" by the Batmanghelidjh and overruled concerns raised.
  • Kids Company Shuts Down
    “We’ve had to abandon a lot of children,” the charity’s CEO, Camila Batmanghelidjh, told the BBC.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Kids Company Supporters Say An Emotional Goodbye To Their Charity Branch in Camberwell
    “My key worker is everything,” a woman told BuzzFeed News. “I speak to them every day. They’re a huge part of my life.”
    Laura Silver for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Cameron ‘personally ordered’ payments to Kids Company
    Dominic Cummings says David Cameron personally intervened three years ago to ensure the government carry on funding the controversial charity Kids Company.
    Michael Crick for Channel 4 News (channel4.com)
    David Cameron 'mesmerised' by Kids Company boss
    A senior figure involved in funding talks with the high-profile charity told the BBC's Norman Smith: "We were all over-ridden by Number 10."
    BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
  • Abuse allegations come to light as details of the police investigation are revealed, while the fallout from the charity’s closure continues.
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  • Four former full-time employees tell BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight that sexual abuse, violent assaults, and drug offences allegedly occurred at some of its centres and were not reported to proper authorities. Their testimony had been passed on to the Met police in July, triggering the investigation.
  • The witnesses say all their allegations occurred in two of the charity’s centres in London: the Urban Academy in Southwark and the Arches II in Lambeth.
  • The most serious of the alleged cases was said to involve a client in his twenties who a whistleblower says sexually exploited girls aged 16 to 18: “[He] forced them to commit sexual acts on him. … There’d be repercussions if they didn’t. … He’d blackmail them.”
  • A separate BBC report hears from a client who claims to have been sexually assaulted at the charity.
  • Meanwhile, a Radio 4 documentary claims the investment bank JP Morgan gave a £90,000 donation to Kids Company to fund a financial literacy worker for three years – but leaked emails suggest the job position it thought it was funding was left vacant for nearly two years.
  • When asked what they did with the cash handouts, a former client says: “Spend it on weed. It was weed heaven on Friday.”
  • A former employee, David Van Eeghan, says that despite the millions of pounds in funding the charity received, “There were days when the lights would go off because the electricity bill hadn’t been paid. We made sure there was hot food and that the doors were open, but we said, ‘Look, the fact of the matter is today it’s going to be a bit dark’.”
  • In a passionate interview with Channel 4 News, Yentob defends his role at the charity.
  • He denies there is a conflict of interest regarding his role at the charity and at the BBC, and says Newsnight had not given the charity the right to reply over the allegations – which is swiftly denied by presenter Emily Maitlis. He admits calling Newsnight prior to its programme about the charity. He also says the sexual abuse allegations had led to the charity turning down funds from donors.
  • In a separate interview, Camila Batmanghelidjh says a donor withdrew a £3 million offer to Kids Company after learning Scotland Yard's child abuse unit was investigating the charity. (This is subsequently denied the next day by the alleged donor.)
  • Batmanghelidjh defends the charity, telling Newsnight it would “become clear we didn’t withhold information”.
  • She says: “If such a thing had taken place … it would have triggered all our safeguarding procedures and been immediately reported.” She adds: “There is no awareness of this incident having taken place at Kids Company’s premises or been brought to Kids Company’s attention – we would have totally reported something like that.”
  • She also asks why Newsnight hadn’t brought the information to Kids Company’s attention earlier. Host Kirsty Wark says the charity had been given a week to respond.
  • Witnesses Allege Sexual Abuse, Violence, And Drug Crimes At Kids Company Centres
    The witnesses were referred to the Metropolitan police by BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Clients And Workers Describe “Havoc” At Kids Company
    Radio 4’s The Report describes a charity that received money for a job that remained vacant for two years and whose handouts meant Fridays were “weed heaven”.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Alan Yentob: 'Kids Company allegations are disgraceful'
    The chairman of embattled charity Kids Company has spoken out for the first time.
    Channel 4 News (youtube.com)
    Presenter denies Kids Company not given right of reply
    BBC executive Alan Yentob has admitted calling Newsnight shortly before it broadcast an investigation into the charity of which he is chairman.
    William Turvill / Press Association for Press Gazette (pressgazette.co.uk)
    Kids Company: '£3m donation withdrawn amid police probe'
    A donor withdrew a £3m offer to Kids Company after learning Scotland Yard's child abuse unit was investigating the charity, its founder has said.
    BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
  • David Cameron comes under pressure as Kids Company supporters march in central London.
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  • Cameron tells the BBC the government was right to give the charity “one last chance” in an interview.
  • Around 150 people on Friday gather outside one of Kids Company’s former centres in south London to march to parliament.
  • Alan Yentob is accused of rowing with a BBC reporter by the Daily Mail, which claims that the BBC executive and Kids Company chair launched a “verbal attack” on BBC correspondent Lucy Manning for reporting on the charity.
  • Channel 4 News reports that the donor Camila Batmanghelidjh was talking about when she described a withdrawn £3 million donation was Stuart Roden. Roden denies Batmanghelidjh’s claim and Yentob releases a statement suggesting it was the charity who refused the money.
  • Prime Minister Defends His Role As Kids Company Anger Rises
    Prime minister David Cameron told the BBC on Friday that the government was right to “give the charity one last chance”.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Kids Company supporters take part in London march
    The march from Camberwell, south London, to Downing Street was called to raise awareness of vulnerable people who used the service
    BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
    Fury as BBC fails to curb 'interfering' boss Alan Yentob
    Backlash after he berates woman reporter over Kids Company film
    Katherine Rushton for the Daily Mail (dailymail.co.uk)
    Donor Stuart Roden claims he did not pull Kids Company funds
    The donor accused of withdrawing £3m of funding to Kids Company is hedge fund chairman Stuart Roden, Channel 4 News can reveal.
    Channel 4 News (channel4.com)

    THE FALLOUT

  • The Mail on Sunday reports that the Charity Commission is investigating claims the charity paid for the private school fees of Camila Batmanghelidjh’s chauffeur. Batmanghelidjh says the fees had been covered by the school in the form of a bursary.
  • Kids Company 'paid private school fees for daughter of toppled boss's chauffeur'
    Charity chiefs launch probe into claim pupil was bankrolled
    Miles Goslett and Glen Owen for the Mail on Sunday (dailymail.co.uk)
  • Further misspending allegations as the Mail on Sunday establishes that one of Batmanghelidjh’s senior aides lives in a mansion that has cost the charity £200,000 in rent. Batmanghelidjh tells the paper it was “needed to provide space for the young people”.
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  • The newspaper also obtains a document that shows the charity spent more than £750,000 on 25 clients in one year. Many are adults in their twenties and thirties. Batmanghelidjh says many had come to the charity as children and still needed help.
  • Camila's own private swimming pool... in luxury mansion paid for by Kids Company
    Children who used £5,000-a-month home were banned from the pool - in a house lived in by aide she 'doesn't know from Adam'
    Simon Walters / Miles Goslett / Neil Craven for The Mail (dailymail.co.uk)
  • The Charity Commission announces that it is conducting a live compliance case into the charity.
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  • In a statement, the regulator says: “A petition for winding up was formally filed by the charity’s trustees at court on Wednesday 12 August under insolvency legislation. ... At the conclusion of our case, we will be making public our regulatory findings and conclusions, given the public interest in this matter.”
  • The Charity Commission is conducting a live compliance case
    As previously confirmed, the Charity Commission is conducting a live compliance case into Kids Company.
    The Charity Commission
  • BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight reveal that local and national government officials are surprised by the low number of clients the charity appears to be handling.
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  • In its own literature, the organisation claims to “intensively” help 18,000 young people and to “reach” 36,000, but the charity has handed over the details of only 1,692 London clients – adults and children – to the authorities.
  • Kids Company Closure May Cost Taxpayers £1.2 Million As Questions Raised Over Client Numbers
    BBC Newsnight and BuzzFeed News were told by government sources that the charity had “far fewer” clients than expected.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight claim Yentob signed an email to the government warning of a “high risk of arson attacks on government buildings” if the charity were to close
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  • The message is contained in documents sent to the Cabinet Office on 2 June. They also warned that the “communities” the charity served could “descend into savagery”. A spokesperson for Alan Yentob said of the document: “The document you refer to was an appendix written by the Safeguarding Team, who set out all the potential risks to be taken into account in the event of closure.”
  • Kids Company Chair Signed Email Warning Of “Arson Attacks On Government Buildings” And “Savagery” If Charity Closed
    BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight have obtained a document signed by Alan Yentob that was sent to the Cabinet Office.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Alan Yentob is accused of “meddling” in World at One coverage of the Kids Company story.
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  • The Daily Mail claims Yentob is guilty of “meddling” by phoning World at One presenter Ed Stourton 45 minutes before he was due to go on air to report on the charity.
  • New meddling storm as Yentob pressures Radio 4 over Kids Co
    Fresh calls to sack executive after he lobbied presenter minutes before he was due on air
    Katherine Rushton for the Daily Mail (dailymail.co.uk)
  • The Mail on Sunday has a follow-up story regarding an internal Kids Company document it claims to have been given that lists 25 clients who had £769,150 spent on them collectively during 2014.
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  • The newspaper alleges that some of those on the list had previously said publicly that they were employed by Kids Company, leading to claims that they were registered as clients to avoid paying income tax and National Insurance.
  • Riddle of Kids Company's tax-free payments to staff who were registered as vulnerable 'clients'
    Charity gave hundreds of thousands of pounds tax-free to employees
    Miles Goslett for the Mail on Sunday (dailymail.co.uk)
  • BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight reveal that Kids Company’s trustees and the Charity Commission had received warnings about the charity’s management in previous years. The revelation is contained in files that date back to 2002.
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  • The documents show that one charitable foundation, the Pilgrim Trust, pulled the plug on a £60,000 grant in 2003 after writing to the Charity Commission to alert it to major issues with Kids Company’s financial management. A report prepared for the charity’s trustees in 2006 by New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), which aims to help donors make more effective decisions about how to allocate their funding, drew attention to a number of serious issues with the charity, many of which would eventually become front-page news earlier this year.
  • Kids Company Warnings Over Mismanagement Go Back To 2002, New Documents Reveal
    Exclusive: The charity’s trustees and the Charity Commission were warned about serious concerns for more than a decade before collapse.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Batmanghelidjh and Yentob take part in a frequently heated three-hour hearing before the Commons public administration committee (PACAC).
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  • They are pressed repeatedly to explain discrepancies in the numbers of young people Kids Company said it was helping – Batmanghelidjh tells the committee one of the reasons was that local authorities had set criteria for the types of clients they would be willing to accept, but Southwark Council denies this.
  • Batmanghelidjh tells the committee she had put up her flat for surety for a £3 million government grant. Cabinet Office sources, however, later say that while she had offered the flat as surety, the department had refused the “baffling” offer, and that eventually donors stepped in with the money.
  • In response to her failure to answer a question about a client who was reportedly given a £150 pair of shoes, Labour MP Paul Flynn describes her responses as “verbal ectoplasm”.
  • Meanwhile Yentob admits to the committee that he may have inadvertently intervened by choosing to stand next to the producers of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme while watching Batmanghelidjh being interviewed on the flagship news show.
  • People who worked on the programme tell BuzzFeed News that having Yentob in the producer’s gallery would be highly unusual, in part because a green room for guests and their associates is provided with full view of the Today studio.
  • At another point during the hearing Yentob is forced to defend the decision to make an episode of the BBC’s flagship arts programme Imagine – presented by himself – about the London-based charity that he helped to run.
  • Kids Company Founder’s Evidence To MPs Contradicted By London Council
    After a fiery hearing in parliament, Camila Batmanghelidjh’s evidence has been questioned by Southwark’s leader.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Alan Yentob Apologises For Potentially Intimidating BBC Journalists Over Kids Company
    The BBC’s creative director – who also served as chair of Kids Company – addressed accusations that his joint role was a conflict of interest. “If it was intimidating I regret it,” he said.
    Jim Waterson for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • The mother of Jerrell Elie, a 17-year-old who was hit and killed by a car shortly after Kids Company collapsed, criticises Yentob for using him as a “political pawn”.
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  • At the hearing the day before, Yentob, who is also the BBC’s creative director, claimed the charity’s collapse had led to four suicides, stabbings, and a death – widely believed to be a reference to Elie. “We have been told it happened because kids no longer had money to pay their drug pushers,” replied committee chair Bernard Jenkin.
  • Yentob says: “I have never intended to cause any distress, and my work with Kids Company has always been about attempting to help those with severe needs.”
  • Mother Says Her Dead Son Is Being Used As A “Political Pawn” In Kids Company Row
    The charity’s former chair of trustees Alan Yentob was criticised by the mother of 17-year-old Jerrell Elie, who died in August.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • A National Audit Office report shows that the charity was kept afloat by the public sector for at least 15 years, receiving at least £46 million of taxpayers’ money.
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  • It also says that there have been concerns raised about the charity for years:
  • “As far back as 2002, government records show officials were concerned about the charity’s cash flow and financial sustainability. Officials also noted at that time that other organisations appeared to offer better value for money. Briefings to ministers in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2015 show that officials accepted Kids Company’s assertions that it would become insolvent without government grant funding.”
  • Watchdog Reveals “Unbelievable” Government Decisions To Fund Kids Company
    A report by the National Audit Office leaves the government with “questions to answer”, said public accounts committee chair Meg Hillier.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight reveal a “horrifying” report was shown to ministers before they decided to sign off the £3 million grant five days before the charity closed.
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  • It says:
    • The charity spent more than £50,000 meeting the cost of a PhD for an individual described as the relative of an Iranian diplomat.
    • Two children of staff members received over £130,000 in client payments.
    • Another client received more than £47,000 in tax-free support in 2014.
    • A client had also been bought a pair of designer shoes for £305.
  • Ministers Signed Off Kids Company Grant Despite “Horrifying” Report
    A confidential auditor report seen by BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight piles pressure on ministers Oliver Letwin and Matt Hancock over the decision to hand the charity £3 million.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Civil servants Richard Heaton, former permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, and Chris Wormald, permanent secretary to the Department for Education, appear before the public accounts committee (PAC).
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  • They are grilled over why Kids Company received £46 million of public money over 15 years despite continuous concerns over its finances. Heaton acknowledges he may have been “naive” to hand Kids Company a £4.3 million grant, and says he was “shocked” when it asked for £3 million more.
  • Top Civil Servant Admits £4.3 Million Grant To Kids Company “May Not Have Been The Right Decision”
    The House of Commons public accounts committee chair told senior Whitehall officials it was “staggering” that questions weren’t being asked about the charity some time before its collapse.
    Alan White and Jim Waterson for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Charity Commission chiefs contradict Kids Company evidence before the public administration committee (PACAC).
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  • William Shawcross, the chair of the Charity Commission, and Michelle Russell, the regulator’s director of investigations, monitoring, and enforcement, give evidence to PACAC. They contradict Batmanghelidjh and Yentob’s evidence on the Woolard case first reported in The Spectator and the auditor report first revealed by BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight on 30 October.
  • Kids Company’s Batmanghelidjh And Yentob “Didn’t Tell Us The Truth”, says MP
    Pressure builds on PACAC chair Bernard Jenkin to recall senior charity figures Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • A former Kids Company employee and a government minister raise concerns about the charity.
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  • A former Kids Company employee submits written evidence to PACAC in which they claim:
    • The charity was run by the CEO [Camila Batmanghelidjh] as “her personal fiefdom, with no regard whatsoever for the financial implications”.
    • There was a “particular group of young adults - many of them in their late 20s - [who] were known throughout the organisation as ‘Camila’s kids’ and inordinate amounts of money and resources were lavished on them; creating envy and resentment among others”.
    • A client in his mid-twenties was sent on a first-class flight to New York to see his girlfriend. The employee alleges: “This same client has allegedly been sent to the USA for several months all expenses paid - to keep him ‘out of the way’ while investigations take place.” Batmanghelidjh denies this claim.
    • Directors of the charity were paid off to “keep quiet about their concerns”.
    • There was “rampant nepotism” in the charity, along with “untrained key workers; people with no idea about boundaries, often leading to inappropriate relationships between key workers and clients”.
  • In response, Batmanghelidjh denies many of the claims and calls for an independent judge-lead enquiry into the charity’s demise.
  • In separate evidence, the former education minister Tim Loughton submits written evidence to PACAC claiming Batmanghelidjh “no doubt” used public funds to send him a legal threat. The schools regulator, Ofsted, supplies evidence saying that its inspection of the charity was limited. It says “the Department for Education alerted Ofsted to concerns that an unregistered school was being operated on the site. Kids Company ceased operation before Ofsted’s inspection and as a consequence, Ofsted found no evidence of an unregistered school being operated.”
  • Camila Batmanghelidjh Calls For New Inquiry Into Kids Company’s Demise
    Batmanghelidjh confirmed that some evidence provided by a former Kids Company employee to PACAC was correct.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • PAC, the public accounts committee, issues a devastating report.
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  • PAC describes the £40 million spent over the past 13 years on Kids Company as “staggering” and a decision to fund the charity in 2015 as “gullible”. The committee “still has no idea what [the government] was getting for taxpayers’ money”, it says, adding: “All the warning signs of a failed and expensive experiment had long been there.” It states: “This must never happen again.”
  • Kids Company Spending “Must Never Happen Again”, Says Powerful Commons Committee
    The public accounts committee issued a devastating report on Whitehall’s relationship with the collapsed charity.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Accountants and the deputy children’s commissioner give evidence to parliament.
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  • PACAC hears that Kids Company included accommodation as expenditure in a grant report to the Cabinet Office in 2013 detailing items the charity had spent money on in the three months to 30 September of that year. But the committee is told the accommodation had been provided as a gift – prompting Bernard Jenkin, the committee’s chair, to ask whether a company making this sort of claim in a report would be regarded as fraud.
  • Deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz also tells the committee that on four separate visits to Kids Company facilities – including one for which the charity was unprepared – she saw staff but very few children.
  • Kids Company Claimed To Be Spending Government Funds On Accommodation It Got For Free
    “Wouldn’t that be fraud?” asked the chair of a Commons committee after hearing that accommodation worth an annual equivalent of £420,000 was a gift from a donor.
    Patrick Smith for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin tells PACAC that he “never believed” the charity’s claims to help 36,000 children.
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  • He says: “It is not unusual in the voluntary sector for charities to make the most of whatever numbers they get.” He tells the committee it had become obvious since the election in May that the charity was “grossly financially mismanaged”, but defended the charity’s work and said it benefited from a less “bureaucratic” mindset compared to other charities.
  • Minister Who Approved Kids Company Grants Says He Never Believed Its Claim To Have 36,000 Clients
    Appearing before an inquiry on Thursday, Oliver Letwin defended his decision to give Kids Company millions in public funds.
    Patrick Smith for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Alan Yentob steps down as creative director of the BBC.
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  • In a statement announcing his departure, Yentob says: “The BBC is going through particularly challenging times and I have come to believe that the speculation about Kids Company and the media coverage revolving around my role is proving a serious distraction.”
  • The BBC Trust commissions a report into “whether any changes should be made to the processes for managing conflicts affecting senior managers – including whether any additional rules should apply to those external activities that are permitted”.
  • BBC Investigates Managers’ Conflicts Of Interests After Yentob Departure
    A report has been commissioned into the external activities of senior managers after the corporation’s creative director stepped down.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • A senior local government official tells PACAC that 36 separate investigations are being pursued by the police into Kids Company.
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  • David Quirke-Thornton, director of children’s and adult’s services at the London Borough of Southwark, takes issue with claims the police investigation may have been leaked, saying: “The Police did not leak the investigation(s) as part of some conspiracy against Kids Company. The Police went public, as is standard practice in such cases, after a strategy meeting had been convened and an independent (NSPCC) helpline established.” He also disputes the number of clients the charity claimed to be helping.
  • Police Pursuing “36 Investigations Relating To Kids Company”
    Local government officials have revealed the scale of the police inquiry into the now-closed charity.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
  • Academics complain over use of their research.
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  • Scholars tell Times Higher Education that reports used to defend the charity’s expenditure had been wrongly portrayed as “evaluations”.
  • Ian Goodyer, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said “nothing we did using the donation from Kids Company constitutes in any shape or form an evaluation of the organisation”.
  • Kids Company academic research wrongly portrayed, say scholars
    Research organisations who previously worked with the troubled children’s charity have sought to clarify ‘misleading’ descriptions of clinical work
    Jack Grove for Times Higher Education (timeshighereducation.com)
  • Complaints are made over questions of participants’ consent to appear in a planned BBC documentary.
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  • The Mail on Sunday reports that a senior Kids Company employee who lost their job when the charity closed in August is challenging the broadcaster in respect of an in-production documentary on the charity using libel lawyers. The article reports that it had recently been agreed that their identity will be obscured in any scene in which they appear, but the individual said their legal battle was ongoing because, they allege, no proper written consent was ever sought and sensitive matters discussed during staff meetings were filmed.
  • Row as BBC plans a new film on scandal-hit charity Kids Company
    Former workers fear documentary could damage their job prospects
    Miles Goslett for the Mail on Sunday (dailymail.co.uk)
  • A former Kids Company psychologist is suspended after having been found to have given illegal drugs to a client she met at the charity.
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  • At the hearing, Dr Helen Winter says members of staff regularly got calls on their mobiles from clients and that clients were invited to a number of workers’ houses, which was an “old-school Kids Company way of working”. Penny Griffith, chair of a fitness-to-practise panel at the Health and Care Professions Council, said it had found "all the charges proven" against Winter.
  • Drugs charges against Kids Company psychologist 'all proven'
    Helen Winter faces being struck off after admitting taking the party drug MDMA at a nightclub with two clients of the charity
    The Daily Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk)
  • The Metropolitan police end their investigation into Kids Company.
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  • They say they found “no evidence of criminality within the 32 reports which would reach the threshold to justify a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service”, and no “failings by the charity in respect of them carrying out their duty to safeguard children or vulnerable adults”.
  • In response, Batmanghelidjh tells the BBC: “I’m very grateful to the police for acting honourably and fairly. I now think there needs to be an inquiry into how this situation came about, why was it in the hands of Newsnight, and what happened after that, and why weren’t we properly informed.”
  • Met Police End Investigation Into Kids Company
    The police said they found “no evidence of criminality within the 32 reports which would reach the threshold to justify a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service”.
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)
    Met Police finds 'no evidence' in Kids Company abuse inquiry
    Officers carried out "extensive inquiries" into claims of physical and sexual abuse at the now closed south London-based charity, but found no evidence to reach the threshold for criminal prosecution, a statement said.
    BBC News (bbc.co.uk)
  • PACAC, the public administration committee, issues a damning report into the charity.
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  • The PACAC report says the collapse of Kids Company was caused by an “extraordinary catalogue of failures” by the charity’s “negligent” trustees, and also lays out a catalogue of mistakes by government ministers and weaknesses in regulation and oversight.
  • The committee’s chair, Bernard Jenkin, says: “There appears to have been a catastrophic confluence of factors that have conspired to allow this charity to operate as it did, for as long as it did.” Alan Yentob is severely criticised for not restraining the “unaccountable and dominant” CEO Camila Batmanghelidjh, as well for his alleged interference in BBC reporting.
  • The report concludes that the “approach of successive governments and ministers towards Kids Company has proved to be an improper way to conduct government business or handle public money”, and in response the government announces it will review how it gives money to charities.
  • On safeguarding, PACAC finds the charity’s handling of certain incidents unsatisfactory and proposes new rules in the sector.
  • In response, the charity’s trustees issue a statement saying: “It is a regrettable feature of British democracy that the committee can use the curtain of parliamentary privilege to produce what is an irresponsible report, immune from the defamation claims that would inevitably follow without this privilege.”
  • Kids Company’s Fall Was Result Of “Extraordinary Catalogue Of Failures On Every Level”
    Chair of parliamentary committee said: “There appears to have been a catastrophic confluence of factors that have conspired to allow this charity to operate as it did, for as long as it did.”
    Alan White for BuzzFeed News (buzzfeed.com)

    Pictures: Press Association / Getty Images / Reuters / Thinkstock

    Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

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