Regulator escalates probe into trans charity Mermaids | Charities

The Charity Commission has escalated its investigations into Mermaids, the regulator announced on Friday, responding to “recently identified issues” about the governance and management of the transgender children’s charity.

A statutory inquiry has been opened following an earlier lower-level regulatory compliance case launched in September in response to protectionist allegations.

The commission will investigate whether there is a “serious system failure” in Mermaids’ governance and management. The trustees have co-operated fully, but the regulator said their response “had not provided the necessary assurance or satisfied the commission at this stage”.

The investigators must assess whether the charity’s management is appropriate in relation to the activities it carries out, which involve vulnerable children and young people. They will also look at “the management of the charity by the trustees, including its management and culture”, whether there has been misconduct or mismanagement by the trustees, and whether they have met their responsibilities under the Charities Act.

The commission said it had yet to draw any conclusions and that the escalation of the investigation did not indicate a finding of wrongdoing.

It is not clear whether the unexpected and unexplained dismissal of the charity’s chief executive, Susie Green, on 25 November was prompted by the commission’s decision to launch a statutory inquiry, which was announced on 28 November.

The commission said in its annual report that it had closed 5,324 regulatory cases in 2021-22. 45 were statutory enquiries, which it describes as its “most serious type of regulatory engagement”. It issued 12 official warnings and disqualified 14 trustees as a result.

Mermaids said in a statement that it had separately commissioned an independent external report earlier this year “to carry out a frank and honest assessment of our internal culture and how we measure up in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion”. The report highlighted “a number of significant challenges for us”.

“We know we need to do better and we are absolutely committed to doing so and will implement the report’s recommendations as a priority. The charity has an unwavering commitment to deliver, which is, and always will be, our highest priority. »

Mermaids have faced increased public scrutiny in recent months. It is embroiled in court hearings after launching an appeal against the Charity Commission’s grant of charitable status to the LGB Alliance, which has been critical of “gender ideology”. It is believed to be the first time a charity has attempted to strip another of its legal status.

The Telegraph published a story in September which alleged that mermaids had offered to send breast binders to children against their parents’ wishes. The Times later reported that a Mermaids trustee gave a presentation in 2011 to an organization which aims to promote “a science-informed understanding of people … with an appeal to children”.

The trustee, Dr. Jacob Breslow, later resigned from his position, and Green acknowledged that his appointment had been a mistake.

In response to the earlier regulatory request, the National Lottery Community Fund has suspended payments to Mermaids and the Department for Education has removed it from its mental health and wellbeing resources for schools.

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