Statutory inquiry into Mermaids announced by regulator

s300_press_release_image_2018_charity commission

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Mermaids, after identifying concerns about its governance and management.

A Neil Wilby Media article, published on 14th October, 2022, highlighted press and politicians’ concerns in the running of Leeds-based Mermaids and its relationship with West Yorkshire Police. It also noted that the Commission was already investigating whether appropriate guidelines and regulations had been followed after receiving a number of complaints (read more here).

Mermaids’ objects are to relieve the mental and emotional stress of children and young people affected by gender identity issues and their families, and to advance public education about the same.

The Commission opened a regulatory compliance case into the charity in September 2022 after safeguarding allegations were raised. It has now formalised its engagement by opening a statutory inquiry, due to newly identified issues about the charity’s governance and management.

The Commission will investigate the regulatory issues to determine whether they indicate serious systemic failing in the charity’s governance and management. The trustees have fully cooperated with the regulator’s case, but their response has not provided the necessary reassurance or satisfied the Commission at this stage.

The regulator will seek to determine whether the charity’s governance is appropriate in relation to the activities the charity carries out, which involve vulnerable children and young people, as well as their families.

The inquiry, which opened on 28th November 2022, will examine:

  • The administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees including its leadership and culture.
  • Whether the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law; in particular whether they had sufficient oversight of the charity’s activities and compliance with its policies and procedures and in line with its charitable objects.
  • Whether there has been any misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees.

It is the Commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the outcomes were.

The Charity Commission, the independent, non-ministerial government department that registers and regulates charities in England and Wales, makes the point clear that it has not reached any conclusions at this stage and the opening of the inquiry is not a finding of wrongdoing. It will not be providing comment while the inquiry is ongoing.

The inquiry was opened under section 46 of the Charities Act 2011. The opening of an inquiry allows the Commission to collect further information and establish the facts, potentially through use of statutory powers in order to inform its decisions about what regulatory action may be appropriate.

UPDATE: Soon after this article was published The Daily Telegraph revealed exclusively that Mermaids boss, Susie Green, was ‘forced out amidst a staff revolt against her incapable leadership, including complaints that she wasn’t transgender and shoved her head in the sand over scandals’.

A whistleblower told the newspaper how ‘disarray inside the charity was the last straw’.

No assertion or imputation of any wrongdoing is made against Susie Green by Neil Wilby Media.

Page last updated Saturday 3rd December, 2022 at 1050hrs

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Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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