Charity chief says claims are untrue

Veterans Council chairman Des White
Veterans Council chairman Des White

The former head of a military charity once based in the borough has again strongly defended it following allegations by a researcher.

Des White, from Golborne, said there were no underlying issues with money given to the Veterans’ Council, which was previously based in Platt Bridge, by the Government.

There are missing pages in the 2014 reports but equally concerning is that there are no accounts for last year

Dr May

Mr White spoke out after campaigner Dr Alex May claimed the charity had submitted incomplete end-of-year records and there were question marks over how £500,000 in funding from the Libor grant scheme was spent.

Mr White said Dr May’s Freedom of Information (FOI) research was incomplete because the Veterans’ Council switched to a different status midway through the Libor allocations and the rest of the records were with the Charity Commission.

Dr May said: “There are missing pages in the 2014 reports but equally concerning is that there are no accounts for last year.

“There’s no proper public record of how the charity has spent that money from Libor.

“I think the public would be quite surprised to think people can submit accounts so incomplete and it is not being picked up by the charity regulator.”

Veterans Council expanded rapidly with the help of Libor and other funding, moving into new premises at Rainford Hall in St Helens.

Ex-chair Mr White strongly rebutted Dr May’s allegations and said all the charity’s activities were open and transparent.

He said: “The registered charity came to an end during that time and it then became a new CIO, an upgraded type of charity.

“There is then more oversight from the Charity Commission.

“I stepped down in June 2015 so that year’s records will have been under the new management.

“We had two boards with people from Deloitte, the NHS, the Department for Work and Pensions and other national organisations.

“Everything was checked and double checked, we worked very closely with the authorities and all the funding went solely on the charity and veterans.

“We met Libor in London in March 2015 and they were very happy with all our outcomes.”

Official responses to requests for clarification were somewhat confused, with the Charity Commission initially referring enquiries about the Veterans’ Council to the Government only for Whitehall departments to say they were not responsible for answering some of the questions.

However, there were no suggestions that the authorities will be looking further into the Veterans Council, which is now set up in Lytham St Annes with different leadership.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “Allegations of misuse of grant funding, including relating to this now-closed grant scheme in 2013, should be directed to trustees and the Charity Commission.

“Since then, the MoD has launched a new Covenant Fund, which has provided almost £11m to support over 220 projects that help service families in need, as well as the wider service community.

“Applications for this scheme are assessed robustly to make sure they deliver for the Armed Forces community.”