Faith charities across Norfolk and the rest of the country will get less than half the money pledged to them via the now suspended charitygiving.co.uk website, run by the Mid Norfolk-based Dove Trust, after a judge ruled on remaining funds distribution.
On July 3, a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice
, heard that more than 1,800 good causes and charities will get just £709,000 of the £1.68 million donated to them via the website, which was shut down by charity watchdog the Charity Commission
in July 2013 after concerns about its management surfaced.
Norfolk-based charities listed on the website included The Mancroft Advice Project, Bryan Gunn’s Appeal, Families House
and Voice for Change
as well as national faith charities such as Christians Against Poverty, Youth2000
and Make Poverty History.
High Court judge Mr Justice Sir Launcelot Henderson
who has retired to consider his verdict, said: “It is very sad. When one has got a limited pot, there are more claims than there is enough money.”
, who was representing the Charity Commission, told the court that the users of the website, www.charitygiving.co.uk, were mainly members of the public collecting donations from friends and family for activities such as riding from Land’s End to John o’Groats to raise funds for a village school in India.
Today (July 23) Mr Justice Henderson has ruled that the available funds should be distributed amongst the beneficiaries in proportion to the amounts outstanding and that there should not be any distinction in treatment between those who contributed before the appointment of the Interim Manager and those who contributed afterwards. The Judge felt this was the best method of achieving fairness between all the donors and beneficiaries in the circumstances.
The Court will now issue an Order on the basis of the distribution. It is for the Interim Manager to carry out checks and calculations to confirm how much each of the charities and good causes will receive under this approach, and to determine the practicalities of making the distribution so that the funds can be distributed as soon as possible. Initial distributions should begin in September.
, Chief Legal Adviser at the Charity Commission said: “This decision has clarified the legal basis on which Interim Manager currently holds the funds belonging to the charity and the way in which they should now be distributed. We appreciate the patience of the charities and good causes who are still waiting for the money they are owed by the Dove Trust and we are pleased that this clear ruling by the court means that the IM can now proceed with a lawful distribution.
"We recognise that charities, good causes and generous donors may still be disappointed that their donations will not be paid in full and we are looking into all available options for recovery of further funds which are owed by the charity. Ultimately it is the trustees who are responsible for the management and administration of the charity to account for any shortfall of funds.”
the founder of the charity from Bawdeswell,
was represented at the court hearing by Francesca Quint,
who said: “Mr Colman is very keen to help. He is devastated by what has happened to his charity and is really anxious that the maximum amount of money goes to the charity and good causes chosen by the donors.”
Mr Colman later told the EDP
: “I believe that all the charities would have been paid if it had not been for the sudden intervention of the Charity Commission last June. Every donation received has been accounted for by the charity’s automatic systems which the interim manager has acknowledged (in the High Court) is a reliable record of the donations which were received.”
Read our previous story on this topic
Read more of this story on EDP24