New Kids Company Allegations
16 August 2015, 12:25
The founder of Kids Company's admitted using a private swimming pool at a mansion the charity rented in Hendon - even though the children the organisation helped weren't allowed to.
Camila Batmanghelidjh has insisted her "heart is very clear" as she faced further questions about the financial affairs of the collapsed charity.
A newspaper investigation's found the colourful charity boss had use of the private pool at a £5,000-a-month mansion rented by Kids Company - even though the underprivileged youngsters helped by the organisation did not swim in it.
The charity also routinely paid for private school fees for staff, and some £769,000 of its funding last year was spent on just 25 clients - many of them adults in their 20s or 30s, the Mail on Sunday reported.
Kids Company closed earlier this month amid allegations of financial mismanagement, drug taking and sexual abuse.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday Ms Batmanghelidjh admitted using the pool at The White House, an art deco mansion in Hendon, a property used for Kids Company clients "a whole lot of them who all have mental illnesses".
She said "the kids don't use the swimming pool" but told the newspaper she had swum there. "Yes but I pay separate rent for that," she said.
The charity received millions of pounds in taxpayer funding and was backed by high-profile celebrities including rock group Coldplay, which donated a reported £10 million to it.
Defending the charity Ms Batmanghelidj said: "We do not hand out money willy-nilly."
She defended the charity's continued support for people long into their adult years.
"Because we have been going for 19 years, some kids that we had in the early days are now older. It's like a household," she said. "Most children grow up and you kick them out, and tell them to go and get a job. But there are households where there are older children with special needs where parents end up still being carer for a twenty-something."
The money was used for psychiatric or other care, not doled out in cash, she told the newspaper.
She accepted that the £769,000 for the 25 "top ranking" clients looked "huge" but insisted there were reasons behind the spending.
"It looks huge but if you peel back the narrative behind those cases, you will understand why they cost so much."
The newspaper reported Kids Company paid for employees' offspring to go to private schools "to reduce staff stress levels".
Ms Batmanghelidjh said: "As part of a wellbeing package, if there are staff having difficulties at home we have a policy of helping them to reduce stress at home as well. We have helped a range of staff with a range of things."
The policy was approved by the Charity Commission and HM Revenue and Customs, she said.
Asked how she felt about the collapse of the charity she said: "My heart is very clear. If I've shed any tears, it's been for the kids, not for me."