UK regulator raps charity focused on disadvantaged children in Tamil Nadu
Grail Trust is under fire for its inadequate handling of an allegation of child abuse involving a person linked to its India partner, with an inquiry finding that the charity’s trustees failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that safeguards put in place were adequate.world Updated: Mar 30, 2017 20:30 IST
Britain’s regulator of charity organisations has criticised the trustees of Grail Trust, which focuses on disadvantaged children in Tamil Nadu, for its inadequate handling of an allegation of child abuse involving a person linked to its India partner.
The Charity Commission said in its inquiry report released on Tuesday that there were serious governance failures due to the trustees’ lack of proper oversight in relation to safeguarding measures and their failure to identify or report the allegation to the police or the commission as a serious incident.
The widely reported allegation related to a children’s home in India run by the trust’s partner, Grail Trust India (GTI), which has now closed. The Wales-based charity raised funds for and provided financial support to GTI to run the home, which was periodically visited by representatives of the charity.
“The Commission does not investigate allegations of abuse but intervenes to ensure that trustees are protecting their charity and its users…The inquiry found that the initial response by the trustees to the allegation was inadequate as they did not report the allegation and were not impartial in considering the allegation, which they publically rejected,” the report said.
The inquiry also found that the charity’s trustees had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that safeguards put in place by GTI were adequate.
The trustees told the inquiry that, when the allegation was brought to their attention, they did not believe it was appropriate to report it to the commission because they were not aware of any formal charges and the allegation appeared, in their view, to be malicious and unsubstantiated.
They did not report the allegation to police in the United Kingdom because they assumed they were already aware of the matter. They told the inquiry this was a “wholly new situation for them”.
Michelle Russell of the Charity Commission said: “This is very concerning. It is another case where trustees do not take abuse allegations seriously nor ensure there are proper safeguarding protections in place to protect children.
“Trustees have a duty to act in the best interests of the charity and this includes having adequate safeguarding policies in place and fully implementing them.”