A salute to Mandrake and a call to the Charity Commission
Today, the Daily Telegraph’s “Mandrake” column renewed their coverage of the scandal surrounding Lady Meyer and her charity, Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT).
Former head of the Press Complaints Commission and ex British Ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher and his wife Lady Meyer at an event organised by Matthew Steeples at Mare Moto, 562 Kings Road, London, SW6 2DZ
I myself made the mistake of becoming involved with PACT a number of years ago after being taken in by Meyer’s story of how her ex-husband abducted her children. Like many others, I gave time and money to this charity believing that it’s privileged founder, the wife of the former ambassador to Washington, did just the same.
As time progressed, though, I became suspicious of the motives of Meyer and her husband Sir Christopher, who happens rather inappropriately to sit on the board of PACT, and ceased to be involved in May 2010.
Exactly a year later, Richard Eden, a superbly tenacious journalist who works on the Daily Telegraph’s “Mandrake” column, published a piece that sadly revealed my misgivings to be true. Eden, simply by analysing the accounts of the charity, found that all but £9,500 of the substantial income 6-figure it received had been paid to the “Chanel-clad” Lady Meyer and one other member of staff. Here, indeed, was a charity that provided an income for an already privileged and wealthy woman who resides in the smart echelons of Cadogan Lane in Belgravia.
Over the coming weeks, Eden and others including The Independent’s Matthew Bell and Janet Street-Porter further delved into this scandal and I myself contacted the Charity Commission to make a complaint about PACT. In response, all I got was a standard letter from a lady named Shirley Banks that simply suggested I direct complaints to the trustees of the very charity I was complaining about. Here, I found, was an organisation who were not bothered by such an appalling state of affairs.
The wife of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, Cherie Booth QC
Whilst the furore may have died down in the remaining months of 2011, “Mandrake” again showed it’s investigative spirit when it revealed this morning that Cherie Blair was no longer a patron of PACT and that her name had been removed from their website. Others, however, including the novelist Barbara Taylor-Bradford remain and their endorsement of “charity beginning at home” is, to my mind, most disconcerting.
If indeed the Charity Commission wants to show itself to be something other toothless, it should take heed and review the ways that the salaries of those running charities are set.
Read Tim Walker’s Daily Telegraph piece at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9000854/Cherie-Blair-steps-down-as-a-patron-of-Lady-Meyers-charity.html
Read Janet Street-Porter’s piece for The Independent about the “mess that is the giving sector” at: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/janet-street-porter/editoratlarge-the-giving-sector-is-a-mess-ndash-and-thats-being-charitable-2290324.html
Find out more about PACT at: http://www.pact-online.org
View the website of the Charity Commission for England and Wales at: http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk