17:11 Thursday 15th October 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
SAM EDWARDS: A big day for the charity Kids Company. In a series of heated exchanges with MPs the leaders of the charity have denied it was a failing organisation. The charity which supported vulnerable young people closed back in August, a couple of months ago, just days after receiving a £3 million grant from the Government. It collapsed amid claims of financial mismanagement, and a police enquiry into allegations of sexual abuse linked to the charity. The founder of Kids Company Camila Batmanghelidjh and the chairman of the charity’s trustees Alan Yentob were grilled by a Commons committee. Camila Batmanghelidjh explained how Kids Company helped those most in need.
CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH: We were getting young people who were literally so mentally ill that they were hearing voices. And some of them were hallucinating. Some of them had extreme paranoia. This is as a result of chronic, often chronic substance misuse since they’ve been young children.
SAM EDWARDS: But she was challenged by the committee chairman, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, about the amounts of money Kids Company handed out.
CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH: Each individual case was decided on its own merit.
BERNARD JENKIN: OK. So was it true that people over the age of eighteen were receiving perhaps more than a hundred pounds a week?
CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH: That would be very rare, and only if they .. it was a family and they had to support a family.
BERNARD JENKIN: You are aware that it is a contempt of Parliament to mislead this committee?
CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH: Absolutely. Yes.
BERNARD JENKIN: And that’s a very serious thing.
CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH: Yes.
SAM EDWARDS: Well Camila Batmanghelidjh was also quizzed about the alleged financial mismanagement at Kids Company, following claims that problems were known about as far back as 2002. She accused MPs of failing to carry out their research properly.
CAMILA BATMANGHELIDJH: You’re holding your evidence on the basis of the Daily Mail and a group of other media providers. You don’t have and you haven’t done the rigorous research that is required in order to be able to determine whether the charity and its structures were failing.
BERNARD JENKIN: Right. I’m giving the opportunity to say what you wanted.
SAM EDWARDS: The Labour MP Paul Flynn was also there. He was running out of patience with her replies as you just heard there.
PAUL FLYNN: You give a non-stop spiel of mostly psycho-babble. You don’t answer the questions. I asked you how do you measure unmet need in the boroughs and we’ve had this torrent of words since.
SAM EDWARDS: Just bringing you some of the flavour of how heated it did end up getting, the disagreements back and forth. Sitting alongside Camila Batmanghelidjh in a hearing lasting three hours the chair of the charity’s trustees Alan Yentob, who’s also the Creative Director of the BBC, admitted having some regrets about his role in the charity.
ALAN YENTOB: If you’re saying do I have regrets, yes, I wish we’d started restructuring earlier. I wish we had not assumed or hoped that Government would give us more funding.
SAM EDWARDS: The leaders of Kids Company are facing further scrutiny. The National Audit Office is investigating grants given to the charity, and it’s also the subject of an investigation by the Charity Commission, and an inquiry by Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs committee.