Captain Tom Foundation faces statutory Charity Commission inquiry over fresh finance concerns

Geraint Vincent reports on the inquiry for ITV News.

The charity watchdog is opening a probe into the charity launched in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore - after identifying fresh "concerns" about his family's involvement.

The Charity Commission said it was concerned about arrangements between the charity and a company linked to Captain Sir Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband Colin, as well as the trustees’ decision-making and how the charity is governed.

The charitable foundation was launched in honour of the late war veteran, who raised £39m for NHS charities during the pandemic.

He caught the world's attention and sparked a huge outpouring of donations by walking laps of his Bedfordshire garden during lockdown on a walking frame in the days before his 100th birthday.

The commission had opened a case into the charity in March 2021, a month after Sir Tom died, and began reviewing the set-up of the organisation.

But it now plans to investigate payments by the charity to a company linked to Mrs Ingram-Moore and her husband's companies, in a statutory inquiry focused on the foundation's independence from the family.

It has also flagged concerns about intellectual property rights and the ability of a company linked to the couple to trademark names linked to "Captain Tom" without the charity objecting - a move the watchdog said may have generated "significant profit" for the company.

The Captain Tom Foundation said it would "work closely" with investigators, but pointed out that regulators had been told before the charity was formed that intellectual property rights would be held in a "private family trust".

Captain Sir Tom Moore was a national hero by the time of his death in February 2021 Credit: PA

The commission said it had "escalated" its investigation "due to newly identified concerns about arrangements between the charity and a company linked to the Ingram-Moore family, as well as ongoing concerns about the trustees’ decision making and the charity’s governance".

"The commission is concerned that a failure to consider intellectual property and trade mark issues when the charity was established provided Club Nook Limited, a private company controlled by Hannah Ingram-Moore and [her husband] Colin Ingram-Moore, the opportunity to trade mark variations of the name ‘Captain Tom’ without objection from the charity. 

"This may have generated significant profit for the company."

In a statement, the Ingram-Moore family said: “On behalf of our family, there are two points we would like to make. Club Nook Ltd made its application for various trademarks in April 2020 prior to the formation of the Captain Tom Foundation (May 5 2020).

“Neither Hannah nor Colin Ingram-Moore were trustee directors of the Captain Tom Foundation upon its formation.”

What is the Charity Commission going to investigate?

The Charity Commission inquiry, which opened on 16 June, will examine whether the trustees have:

  • Been responsible for mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of the charity and whether, as a result, the charity has suffered any financial losses, including through any unauthorised private benefit to any of the current or previous trustees;

  • Whether the trustees have adequately managed conflicts of interest, including with private companies connected to the Ingram-Moore family;

  • Whether the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law.

The £39m raised by Captain Sir Tom and donated to a separate charity, NHS Charities Together, prior to the formation of foundation is not part of the scope of the inquiry, the commission said.

Captain Tom with grandson Benji, daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and granddaughter Georgia

Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “The late Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired the nation with his courage, tenacity and concern for others. It is vital that public trust in charity is protected, and that people continue to feel confident in supporting good causes.

“We do not take any decision to open an inquiry lightly, but in this case our concerns have mounted. We consider it in the public interest to examine them through a formal investigation, which gives us access to the full range of our protective and enforcement powers.”

Reports of £100k salary 'absolutely not true'

Earlier this year, Mrs Ingram-Moore appeared on This Morning to give an exclusive and emotional defence of the charity's aims and spending.

She became tearful as she claimed she had been targeted with abuse after the charity's financial accounts attracted widespread attention.

During the interview, she denied reports claiming the foundation had been planning to pay her a six-figure salary.

When asked during the 3 March interview if there was any truth in the reports of a six-figure salary, Mrs Ingram-Moore said: “Absolutely none. It’s absolutely not true, what the trustees did was ask for a benchmarking and asked ‘if we were to employ a CEO what’s the highest, what’s the lowest?’, so it’s simply not true.” 

That followed concerns about the charity's accounts, which showed that in its first year it spent less than half of the nearly £1.1m in donations it received - paying out grants of £160,000 to good causes while spending £240,000 on management and fundraising costs.

After investigating, the Charity Commission said it was "satisfied that these specific payments are reasonable reimbursement for expenses incurred by the companies in the formation of the charity".

  • Hannah-Ingram Moore spoke exclusively to ITV's This Morning in March

The Captain Tom Foundation was registered on 5 June 2020, following the fundraising efforts of Capt Sir Tom at the outbreak of the pandemic.

Capt Sir Tom was knighted by the Queen for his fundraising efforts, and hailed as a hero nationwide, before he died with Covid in February 2021.

The foundation was registered as a grant-making charity, for the advancement of public health and wellbeing.

Mrs Ingram-Moore initially led the launch of the Captain Tom Foundation, but later stepped aside from the chief executive role after the watchdog intervened, the Charity Commission said in a statement.

Captain Tom walking lengths of his garden in Bedfordshire. Credit: PA

Prior to the inquiry opening, the commission said it spoke with the Captain Tom Foundation about the appointment of Mrs Ingram-Moore, a former trustee, as chief executive.

It said in March 2021, the charity had requested the regulator’s permission to employ her on a salary of £60,000 a year, for three days a week. The commission asked for evidence of the benchmarking exercise undertaken to set the wage.

The charity provided the commission with this evidence and a revised proposal to appoint Mrs Ingram-Moore on a salary of £100,000 on a full-time basis, but in July the commission refused permission as it considered the "the proposed salary neither reasonable nor justifiable".

The following month it agreed to a three-month rolling contract to appoint Mrs Ingram-Moore as interim chief executive on a salary of £85,000 a year, for a maximum of nine months whilst the trustees conducted an open recruitment process.

That period has now ended and the charity has recruited a new chief executive.

Captain Sir Tom Moore was knighted by the Queen for his fundraising efforts Credit: Chris Jackson/PA

Jack Gilbert, who took on the role of chief executive on June 1, said he would lead "an important period of transformation for the Captain Tom Foundation", and the charity would be announcing new charitable activities to combat ageism.

“Working with the board, I am using the NCVO-backed Trusted Charities standards to ensure that in all respects, including governance and finance, the foundation conforms to best practice. These will be externally validated as part of the process," he said.

Stephen Jones, chairman of the board of trustees of the Captain Tom Foundation, said: “We will, of course, work closely with the commission in its inquiry relating to intellectual property management.

“I note that the trustees confirmed with the commission during the process of registration that the ‘image rights and intellectual property rights of the name were held within a private family trust’, and the commission were aware that this was always intended to be the case.

“We welcome that the Charity Commission today reports that it is ‘satisfied’ in relation to questions that had been raised about the foundation’s annual report which was published in February, and has concluded that payments were reasonable and that conflicts of interest were identified and managed.”

The Charity Commission's inquiry comes at the end of a turbulent few months for the charity, which has seen the inaugural Captain Tom Day postponed over uncertainty over its finances

The event had been due to take place in June after the Captain Tom Foundation and Dame Esther Rantzen teamed up on plans to hold an event celebrating older people.

But plans were shelved in February until the investigation into its finances had been concluded.

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