Animal charity which employs PM’s fiancee Carrie Symonds probed by regulator

Image of a tiger sanctuary
Support us and go ad-free

An investigation has been launched by the Charity Commission into an animal conservation group which employs the prime minister’s fiancee Carrie Symonds amid “serious concerns” about its “governance and financial management”.

Concerning

The government watchdog has announced it began probing the Aspinall Foundation in July 2020 in relation to claims of “unauthorised trustee benefit” and whether trustees “have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law”.

The Aspinall Foundation was founded in 1984 and runs breeding sanctuaries for endangered animals as well as operating the Howletts and Port Lympne animal parks in Kent, which were set up by gambling club host and animal enthusiast John Aspinall.

Symonds was appointed head of communications for the foundation earlier this year, although the subject of the inquiry dates from before she joined the organisation.

Carrie Symonds animal charity appointment
Carrie Symonds is head of communications at the Aspinall Foundation (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A statement from the charity regulator says:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the Aspinall Foundation over serious concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management. The regulator began examining the charity in July 2020 over concerns about the management of conflicts of interest and related-party transactions.

It opened a regulatory compliance case and began engaging with the trustees regarding these concerns in November of last year, and the trustees have been fully co-operating with the commission.

Since that time, the regulator has identified further questions regarding the charity’s governance, and it will now examine all these issues as part of a formal statutory inquiry.

The inquiry will examine the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees with specific regard to how conflicts of interest have been dealt with and managed, whether or not there has been any unauthorised trustee benefit and whether or not the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law.

Charity

The statement adds that the launch of the inquiry “is not a finding of wrongdoing”.

A spokesperson for the charity, which has launched its own internal review led by independent specialists, said:

The Aspinall Foundation remains firmly committed to its ethical and legal duties as a charitable body. Our trustees will continue to work openly and transparently with the Charity Commission to ensure best practice governance and compliance.

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop

 

The Canary Fund us
  • Show Comments
    1. ‘Charity Commission’. I’d find it a bit weird if this was a genuine body. I know the various ombudsmen and watchdogs have to have some ‘results’ to make them look legitimate but a wholly legitimate regulator seems a bit of a stretch. Unless a few of them actually are allowed to be non-fraudulant to, again, help the over all illusion.

      It’s all quite clever really, isn’t it. You could easily get through life without smelling a rat.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.