Charity Commission looking into concerns about Ian Botham charity

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The regulator has confirmed it is “aware of concerns” about Ian Botham’s charity, after its most recent set of accounts failed to show it paid nearly £100,000 to his daughter’s PR company. 

The story was covered over the weekend in the Daily Mail, and said that the former cricketer’s Beefy’s Charity Foundation had “handed up to £94,000 to his daughter’s PR company last year but nothing to charitable causes”. 

While there are no rules about how much of its income a charity should spend on charitable activities, Botham’s charity accounts did not disclose its related party transactions to Sarah Botham’s company for undertaking work on its behalf. 

The foundation’s most recent set of annual accounts, for the year ended 31 March 2017, show the charity had an income of £136,756 and a total expenditure of £97,534. Of this, £3,317 was spent on “administration cost” while £94,217 was spent on “fundraising”. 

The accounts do say that the fundraising costs “include planning and upfront costs for both the Australia Walk, a fundraising event to be undertaken by Sir Ian Botham as his final charity walk in November 2017” and the “Run-out fundraising dinner which has been postponed to December 2017 for operational reasons. Income from both of these events will be shown in next year’s accounts”.

The Daily Mail said that both events were “overseen by Sola Events, a company owned by Sir Ian’s daughter, Sarah”. Sarah Botham was listed as the contact both for people who wished to attend the fundraising dinner and to undertake the walk. 

Accounts for the previous year show the charity spent £191,000 on grants and £78,000 on fundraising costs.

Botham is not a trustee of the charity, but his wife is listed as the president. 

Commission assessing concerns

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said it was “aware of concerns” about the charity, and were “assessing” whether there was a regulatory role for it. 

“The Commission is aware of concerns about Beefy’s Charity Foundation. We are assessing these concerns to determine whether there is a regulatory role for us.

"Whilst there is no legal minimum threshold for charitable expenditure and there may be legitimate reasons as to why a charity is focusing on fundraising during a particular financial year, trustees have a responsibility to manage their resources responsibly and consider the best interests of those they are there to help.”  

Naynesh Desai, a solicitor and one of the three trustees of the charity, told Civil Society News that: “The Beefy Foundation, its trustees and Sir Ian Botham all take the allegations that have been made in the newspaper extremely seriously”. 

He said it was “unfortunate” that the charity had been given just 24 hours to respond by the Daily Mail. 

“It is unfortunate that we at the foundation were only approached late on Friday afternoon and told the story was going to be run. The trustees were not available at the time to respond," but will be issuing a full response shortly.

The news pages on the charity's website have not been updated since September 2017, before the events took place.

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