Charity Commission opens Statutory Inquiry into the Swimming Teachers Association

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the Swimming Teachers' Association (STA) amidst reports of improper governance. Founded in 1932, the charity's main mission is to promote the effective teaching of swimming, lifesaving and survival techniques.  With 30 countries now adopting its training standards, the charity has grown to employ more than 50 people with income growing to over £2.2million according to its latest accounts filed with the Charity Commission in 2014.

The Charity Commission has decided to exercise its discretion under section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 (CA 2011) which grants the commission the power to institute inquiries. By opening such an inquiry, the charity commission has access to a wide range of investigative, protective and remedial legal powers. These can include the power to obtain statements and accounts by statutory declaration under section 47 CA 2011 and can order search warrants if approved by a Justice of the Peace under section 48.

When launching the investigation on 1st July, the commission stated that the investigation would mainly consider the governance of the charity. It will also extend to the activities of the charity's trustees, officers, agents and employees.

Underpinning the investigation has been the proposed organisational changes which have been deemed by the commission to be a potential risk to the charity's assets due to the lack of clarity regarding how they would benefit the charity's interests. It will also investigate whether the charity had claimed rates relief improperly for the property it owns.

Additionally, the commission's examination will consider the trustees' oversight and involvement in the recruitment, selection, and remuneration of the charity's senior management. This comes as its latest accounts filed with the Charity Commission in 2014, documented the charity's Chief Executive earning almost £210,000 a year in addition to eight trustees being remunerated for at least £8,000 in expenses.

Following, the announcement of the inquiry, the STA confirmed that its Trustees had immediately contacted the Charity Commission in June following serious concerns regarding the management of the charity.

In its statement, the commission said that since the opening of its investigation, the Trustees had fully co-operated and have submitted a serious report form. It has also reiterated that the inquiry itself is not evidence of wrongdoing but merely a process of ascertaining whether management of the charity has been proper.

Posted on: 26/08/2015

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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