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Canon Andrew White banned from charity management positions for 12 years

by Marcus Jones

It's emerged Canon Andrew White has been banned from being involved in the senior management of any UK charity.

The clergyman, who's known as the Vicar of Baghdad following his time serving in Iraq, has been prevented by the Charity Commission from working as a trustee or any senior role for a period of twelve years.

The decision was made in July earlier this year but has only come to light following the release of the findings of an inquiry looking into mismanagement at his current charity Jerusalem Merit, which provides poverty relief across the Middle East.

He was previously criticised by the Charity Commission over wrongdoing at his former organisation the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME).

The Commission says the ban relates to that previous investigation.

The most recent inquiry into Jerusalem Merit has highlighted a conflict of interest and financial concerns at the charity.

The conflict of interest relates to a payment made to an organisation called Ace White Gold Ltd, which is owned by Andrew White, for what the Commission described as PAYE services.

In regards to financial concerns, the Commission says that it has seen no evidence that funds raised for the charity by Andrew White through his own book sales have been given to the charity. It also highlights the movement of money overseas, payments to serving trustees and charity money being kept in personal bank accounts.

Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission said: "This case is a reminder that good governance is more than a bureaucratic detail. It should serve as a lesson for all charities in the importance of strong independent boards that protect and steer their charity towards furthering its purpose, in the interests of those it is set up to help. The role of an ambassador should be to support a charity and help it thrive.
"Our inquiry exposed a number of inappropriate arrangements and transactions which were overseen or permitted by the former trustees - including failures to manage the charity's relationship with its ambassador, identify and manage conflicts of interest, and prevent private benefit. We will monitor the trustees' compliance with our order to ensure that the changes we need to see are made."

After speaking to a trustee at Jerusalem Merit, Premier was pointed to a statement given in response to the inquiry.

It said: "We are a totally transparent organisation and, as stated, our goal is to aid refugees in Jordan. In doing this we rely heavily on our ambassador, Canon Andrew White, without whom the charity would not exist, alongside support staff. His global presence has enabled funding to come from across the world and these have helped towards educating children, feeding and clothing refugees and also enabling health and medical care.

"Whilst we acknowledge that there were some initial shortcomings beyond our control, the Trustees are of the opinion that there is now adequate Governance and controls in place."

"As part of the Statutory Inquiry we, the trustees, are reviewing performance, competencies and communication levels and will make recommendations for improvement."

Jerusalem Merit confirmed that Andrew White is only an ambassador for the charity and is not in any decision making role.

The findings come ten months after the Charity Commission produced a report into White's time at FRRME. That report accused Andrew White of "concerning behaviour" which put the charity at risk.

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