Cameron Defends £3m Grant Paid to Kids Company, Amid Allegations Staff Ignored Thefts by Kids

Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company

Senior Kids Company staff ignored the theft of £10,000 by a ‘favoured client’, an alleged drug user who drove a BMW, a whistle-blower has claimed. The allegation is the latest in a long string of allegations made against the beleaguered charity, which was forced to close its doors this week amid accusations of sexual abuse of children as young as two, and financial mismanagement.

The whistle-blower, an anonymous physiotherapist who worked at the charity at the time the money went missing, has described scenes of “chaos” at the charity’s headquarters, with “favourite kids” being allowed to roam through head office at will.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the man said that police had been called after £10,000 was taken from the charity’s finance department in the spring of 2012, but no arrests were ever made.

“They tracked CCTV [afterwards] and saw that he came into the head office on the CCTV in reception and never came out,” he said.

“Someone said they saw him on the fifth floor at six o’clock, which is a floor which is rarely used. That night just over £10,000 in cash went missing from the finance department. I know that a good proportion of this money is from donors but a significant portion is public money.”

He discussed the incident with senior figures at the time, he said: “They were obviously concerned about this chap but nothing ever came of it.

“That was an example of the chaos.

“I don’t know whether any effort was made to inform the police just how much Kids Company actually knew – but everyone knew it was him and nothing came of it.

“He came back and used to taunt me before I left there, he used to walk past and take the mick.

“He drove a BMW and had a flat.”

He added: “In the office there was always Camilla’s [Batmanghelidjh – founder and CEO of Kid’s Company] entourage of favoured kids just allowed to roam free in that office.

“There were always thefts – I remember an iPad went missing, a gym bag, my mobile phone went missing, there was always a thief in there.

“What is tragic about these favourite kids is that behind Camilla’s back they used to refer to her as the cash machine on the second floor.”

Over the years, the Kids Company has received millions in public funding, often against the recommendation of civil servants. In 2012, when the Department of Education tried to end an annual £4m grant to the charity, Batmanghelidjh wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron who ordered the money to be handed over.

The same thing happened in June, when a further £3m was paid out as a “sustainability grant” in order to prevent the charity going under; the Cabinet Office’s most senior civil servant objected, reasoning that the charity had not proved that it had moved to a sustainable financial model, but he was overruled by two ministers who ordered the grant paid. £800,000 of the money was handed over immediately to staff in wages. The charity has now folded.

“She has got charisma,” one former employee who lost their job this week said, “and that’s what she blinded a lot of people with.”

The Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his decision to hand over the taxpayer funded cash to Kids Company even as it was floundering. Mr Cameron, speaking on Friday during a visit to the National Citizen Service which also works with teenagers, said: “The government thought it was the right thing to do to give this charity one last chance of restructuring to try and make sure it could continue its excellent work.

“Sadly that didn’t happen, not least because of the allegations that were made and private donors withdrawing their money. But I think the government was right to say let’s have one last go to try and keep this charity going, given the excellent work it’s done for so many young people.”

Despite being forced to step aside last month with her reputation in tatters, Ms Batmanghelidjh has told friends she intends to continue the work Kids Company was doing, The Times has reported.

“Some people have been told, ‘Don’t worry, you’re in the next [charity],’” a former worker said. “She’s going to start a new charity. Not now, she’s going to let the dust settle, but 100 per cent.”

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