Kids Company trustees and Charity Commission should remember it takes two to tango

Alastair Stewart

Former ITV News presenter

Kids Company charity founder Camila Batmanghelidjh Credit: Reuters

So much of what I read about Camila Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company reminds me of the famous 1988 Vice Presidential debate exchange between the elderly, graceful Senator Lloyd Bentsen and a rather presumptuous and bumptious Senator Dan Quayle, who likened himself to JFK.

Bentsen delivered one of the all-time great political put-downs: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

I know Camila; she's a personal friend; and I know Kids Company, and have done since Katie Derham and I presented London Tonight from the Urban Academy years ago.

Kids Company charity founder Camila Batmanghelidjh and David Cameron in 2010 Credit: Reuters

The Camila and "Kidsco" I am reading about is not the Camila and Kidsco I know.

My friend, our esteemed Social Affairs Editor, Penny Marshall writes here, far better than I could, of the pitfalls of celebrity fixation, the precarious inadequacy of over-sight and even the dangers of "well-meaning" out-stripping "management ability". She's right.

What do Coldplay, J.K. Rowling and Damien Hirst know of management systems and double-entry bookkeeping? They employ accountants, managers and lawyers to look after all that important tedium whilst they sing, write and paint.

But, like me, they can spot a warm heart and a burning passion when they see it.

Camila Batmanghelidjh with the Mayor of Winchester Cllr Eileen Berry earlier this year Credit: ITV News

Where were the Kids Company trustees when it was said that the dream had become a nightmare?

What was the Charity Commission doing when this flagrant abuse of the public purse was perpetrated, for all to see?

Or perhaps it wasn't.

Camila is a radical and her methods and theories are not mainstream.

Folk in politics and psychiatry don't like that.

Other journalists see a wounded creature of love and elegance they can kick while she's down.

They see an eclectic agency, doing good for children, that questions the norms; former spads in the Education Department don't like that.

If wrong had been done, it's worth trustees and the Charity Commission remembering it takes two to tread on toes whilst tangoing.

And if it has, I'll mount a soapbox and bellow my "mea culpas".

But if wrong hasn't been done, will the gainsayers please form an orderly queue to apologise to the children who, from tonight, might once again be cast aside.

"Suffer the little children".

Now who said that?