Cherie Blair’s half sister banned by charity regulator

Lauren-booth

Trustees could not account for over £90,000 of missing cash 

30th January 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Cherie Blair’s half-sister has been removed as a trustee of an Islamic charity after a Charity Commission inquiry found that the organisation failed to account for at least £92,110 of spending.

Lauren Booth and her husband – who was the charity’s chief executive – were disqualified from holding further trustee positions after approximately half the charity’s income was unaccounted for.

An investigation run by the commission into Peacetrail, which had objectives of advancing Islam and relieving poverty, concluded that both trustees were to be disqualified from holding further trustee positions.

They were found by the inquiry to have failed to exercise control over the charity’s finances or oversee its chief executive properly.

The inquiry into Peacetrail opened on 31 March 2016 after a previous compliance visit uncovered concerns about the charity’s financial management, governance arrangements, a lack of due diligence concerning the charity’s agents and partners, and risks to the charity’s property due to a lack of monitoring of expenditure.

Bank records showed there was £203,000 in unaccounted-for expenditure between 1 November 2013 and 5 June 2015. The regulator also found that the charity’s chief executive had self-authorised salary payments of £46,500.

The commission discovered that the trustees – Booth and Nadeem Ahmed – had attempted to resign on 8 September 2014 and 4 January 2016 respectively, but it found both resignations to be ineligible because it would have left the charity inquorate.

During her time as a trustee, Booth said she supported "numerous projects for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip".

She said the work provided "over £100,000 in donations" which was put towards "support in health, housing and education for some of the most needy families in the region".

Booth said bank statements, photos and film footage were provided by the charity to account for its expenditure, and that she was "disappointed" with the Charity Commission's findings.

The charity, which was a charitable incorporated organisation, has been dissolved and was removed from the charities register on 31 October 2017.