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Revealed: the emails which show how Kids Company is dealing with the allegations against it

4 August 2015

6:20 PM

4 August 2015

6:20 PM

The charity Kids Company is under so much pressure that some people are starting to worry about its outgoing chief executive, Camila Batmanghelidjh.

Recent reports of financial mismanagement published in The Spectator and elsewhere have contributed to Batmanghelidjh being forced to quit her £90,000 post, which she has promised to vacate by October 31, but uncomfortable questions remain: last week, a sex abuse investigation into the charity was launched by police. 

In the small hours of yesterday morning I was sent, anonymously, a series of emails sent from Kids Company employee accounts over the last month. Some are written by Batmanghelidjh and provide an insight into how she is dealing with the revelations which have rocked the organisation she founded in 1996.

People who have worked at the charity in the past have advised me to publish these emails as widely as possible and as quickly as possible, even though they were never intended to be read by anybody outside of Kids Company.

They say my personal safety would be at less risk if I did so and, after careful thought, I have decided they are right. 

The public interest is also overwhelming.

The emails show that of all the journalists who have written or broadcast about Kids Company this year, Camila Batmanghelidjh has singled out for criticism me and some of my recent reports about Kids’ Company published in The Spectator, The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday. 

According to Batmanghelidjh, whom I have never met, the stories I have written over the last 6 months show that my ‘capacity for fantasy is very well-developed’; my ‘psychological abilities need a little bit more development’; my ‘capacity for fiction is very amateurish’ and I am acting ‘irresponsibly’.

It’s been pointed out to me that even though as far as I am concerned Batmanghelidjh’s opinions on this topic do not bear scrutiny, and I’m sure she intends no harm to me personally, some impressionable minds might decide that she is right. They might conclude that I am somehow personally responsible for a light being shone on Kids Company when it is obvious that, for example, the police would not launch an investigation lightly.

So, it is better for all concerned that the record is set straight – not least because Batmanghelidjh invoked my name during a round of national TV interviews, including on the BBC, which she gave on July 3, when Kids’ Company was also in the news for negative reasons.

By way of background, in February I wrote a report for the Spectator about Kids Company. As far as I know, this was the first article in a mainstream publication that openly questioned the charity, which has received about £40 million of government money over the last decade or so.

In it, I revealed it had admitted its longstanding claim to ‘reach’ 36,000 children each year was exaggerated; that officials at the Department for Education were so concerned about financial mismanagement at the charity that they tried to stop its multi-million pound funding (but were later overruled by David Cameron); and that a pensioner called Joan Woolard had given the charity £200,000 in 2013 but had never been shown any concrete evidence proving how her money was spent.

Since that report was published I have continued to scrutinise the charity. 

I have found that in 2002 its chairman of trustees, the BBC executive Alan Yentob, secretly lobbied Treasury officials over an unpaid £700,000 employment tax bill. The charity had deducted this money from staff but failed to pass these funds on to the taxman. In the end, a secret deal was done whereby £589,000 of the total bill was written off at public expense.

I have also had contact with several more former charity clients and employees who have told me, independently of each other, that in their opinion charity money has been misused over a long period of time, with vulnerable children being bought designer clothes and sent on foreign holidays or simply being handed large sums of cash with which they have bought drugs and alcohol.

The thrust of my reports has been that Kids Company is a charity which appears to operate along lines which no other publicly-funded organisation could.

Other journalists, notably those at BBC’s Newsnight programme and at the news website Buzzfeed, have also examined the charity and disclosed crucially important facts. 

On July 2 Newsnight revealed that the government was withholding a £3 million grant from Kids Company unless and until its £90,000 chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh stepped down.

And on July 30 the BBC revealed that the police are now investigating Kids Company over the sex abuse allegations.

Anonymous sources who say they are connected to the charity have contacted me repeatedly since my piece appeared in the Spectator in February and urged me to keep going. Some have provided new lines of inquiry.

Does Camila Batmanghelidjh think they are irresponsible fantasists as well?

The email sent by Batmanghelidjh on July 7 is particularly revealing. It shows that she offered ‘guidance’ to charity employees who were writing brief descriptions of the vulnerable children and adults they encounter at Kids Company. These descriptions were to be written ‘so we can use them in the Press’ in what was a clear attempt by the charity to start spinning a more positive view of itself. Troublingly, the clear implication of Miss Batmanghelidjh’s instructions is that descriptions of these children should be graphic. If this is not irresponsible, I do not know what is.


The emails:

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Camila Batmanghelidjh <>
Date: 7 July 2015 at 18:06
Subject: [all-staff] case studies
To: All Staff <>
Dear Team,
We’re trying to gather paragraphs on the children and families we work with. Nothing long, but something to give the sense of adversity they are enduring, so that we can use them in the press to make the kids and your work more visible. So I wanted to give you some guidance on it.
The public can’t imagine the type of abuse our kids are enduring, so you need to visually describe elements of it. For example, if you want to say a child has been abused give a sense of how i.e. burnt with a cigarette, beaten with a belt, so that the public is taken close to the experience of it from the child’s perspective.
Try and describe something individual about the child, for example he always wears the same pair of shoes so that there’s a sense of the child’s presence.
If you describe your help for the child don’t just list things; give a sense of the intimacy of it. For example, say that you keywork them and then go on to say a bit more i.e. I would often go to the house to make sure that they were okay.
What you’re trying to aim for is poignancy.
Thank you for all of your support and kindness today. I was very touched.
With love,
Camila

Camila Batmanghelidjh
Chief Executive

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh
Date: 16 July 2015 at 15:36
Subject: [all-staff] It’s your President speaking!
To: All Staff

Dear Staff

It’s your President speaking!

Government has been incredibly kind to us. They have agreed to give us £3m and insisted that I take up the lovely role of President.

Because I care very much about you and the children, I have agreed to this arrangement. So, a press release will be going out, which I attach below.

In recognition of the government’s kindness, I too have a gift for them, which I will keep safe whilst we strengthen Kids Company. In relation to restructuring, we are generating a business plan which will form the foundation of our future Charity and consultancy period with staff. As soon as this business plan is completed we will come to you for advice/discussion and after an approval process the formal restructuring process will then commence.

We’ve new additions to the trustee board. They are philanthropists who have been giving an enormous amount of practical and financial support to us in the last few years. They are keen to see Kids Company have stability and they are joining us to help the organisation. They are highly motivated and want to give you all the support you need. Our restructuring lead, Colin Whipp, has just joined, and he will help achieve the best outcome for the restructure.

As this communication goes out to the media from the government, I expect another flurry of media coverage, and any negative stories that they may have been working on may emerge. So expect probably another week of ‘fantasy writing’. We are very grateful for our friends also in the media who have continuously helped balance destructive narratives. As always, look out for the man or woman in the bush with their hidden cameras, and offer them a nice cup of tea if you catch them!

I am delighted to be sharing the same title as Obama, although my butt is significantly bigger than his!

With huge love to all of you,

Camila

 

***

Kids Company Statement

Over the last 19 years Kids Company has developed a highly effective model for the delivery of practical and emotional support for vulnerable children and young people. In the charity’s 20th year the trustees have today announced that Camila Batmanghelidjh the founder and inspiration behind the vision and growth of Kids Company will be redefining her role within the organisation. She will be focusing on clinical innovation, which she has pioneered alongside her team and academic collaborators. This work will be disseminated internationally. She will also continue to play a central role in the future development of Kids Company whilst maintaining her clinical work, advocacy and fundraising.

A formal search for a new full time Chief Executive Officer is underway.  We aim to have a new CEO in post by 31st October. Camila’s responsibilities will be enshrined in the new role of President of Kids Company, in what will be her 20th year of leading the organisation.

Building on Kids Company’s achievements we are delighted to announce that Stuart Roden, John Frieda, William de Winton and Nick Lawson will be joining the Board of Trustees of Kids Company. Over the years these philanthropists have made a considerable financial and practical contribution to the organisation. Alongside the current trustees they bring extensive business experience to the board as well as new opportunities for fundraising.

In order to adapt to current economic challenges Kids Company will need to restructure to maintain its commitment to the most vulnerable children, young people and families. To facilitate this transition the Trustees of Kids Company have appointed restructuring specialist Colin Whipp, as interim Chief Operating Officer and interim Finance Director. Colin will be working with the senior management team to help build upon Camila’s vision as the charity enters a new phase.

Kids Company has worked with some of the most challenged children, young people and families and its ability to sustain itself as a therapeutic community has been due to extraordinary philanthropic contributions as well as government funding. We are grateful to all our partners for participating in the creation of an organisation that children and young people have come to trust and can self refer to. Kids Company continues to be inspired and informed by the courage of its children and young people as well as the unwavering commitment of its staff and volunteers.

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Chief Executive

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh
Date: 28 July 2015 at 17:25
Subject: [all-staff] July payroll
To: All Staff

Dear Team

I am so sorry you have not been paid yet. We are waiting for exchanges between the government and the philanthropists and trustees to be completed. We had expected for these discussions to be resolved earlier and that’s why you had not received warning communications. We are moving forward with the expectation that a resolution will be arrived at tomorrow.

I’m sorry for the stress this has caused you, and I really appreciate your patience and your commitment. We understand the urgency and are doing our very best.

With love,

Camila

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Chief Executive

KIDSCOMPANY

 

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh
Date: 29 July 2015 at 16:23
Subject: [all-staff]
To: All Staff

Dear team,

We just heard that the discussions have resolved between government and the philanthropists. Everything has been agreed, we are going ahead with payroll. It will be done tomorrow as soon as the money hits our account.

Thank you for your patience. You have been amazing and I am so sorry that the machinery of Whitehall was slower than we would have liked.

Please let us know through HR if you have had any significant difficulties because of the delay.

With love,

Camila

 

Camila Batmanghelidjh


Chief Executive

KIDSCOMPANY

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh
Date: 30 July 2015 at 13:45
Subject: [all-staff]
To: All Staff

Dear team,

I just want to let you know that we have just received our funding from the government and are processing payroll right now.

With love,

Camila

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Chief Executive

KIDSCOMPANY

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh
Date: 30 July 2015 at 18:39
Subject: [all-staff]
To: All Staff

Dear team,

We have just become aware of allegations in the media that we’re being investigated by the police related to allegations of sexual offences. We do not know what these relate to and it is very extraordinary that before we even knew about them, the media have been briefed. So you can be sure that this is an organised campaign against us. Since all the media outlets have been briefed simultaneously, it is a very systemic construct.

The most important thing is to reassure the children and young people that if there had been any breach of trust within the organisation and we were aware of it, we would’ve dealt with it. At this stage we don’t know what this is about. And when we find out we will inform you.

In the meantime, be sensitive to potential calls by the media who may want to entrap you. If you find out anything, please inform me. Do not comment, just keep calm. We’ve got a team at Kids Company who are managing this crisis including external lawyers and advisers. We must be very significant that they’re going after us in this way!

I will keep updating you.

With love and best wishes,

Camila

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Chief Executive

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Marianna Davis
Date: 31 July 2015 at 09:21
Subject: [all-staff] URGENT: Kids Company statement to share with contacts
To: All Staff

It is with a deep sense of shock and sadness that I write this, having just found out that there are a number of allegations made against Kids Company and that there is a police investigation.

Kids Company and its staff take the welfare of children very seriously. We have, for 19 years, built a community aimed at protecting and generating resilience in some of the most vulnerable. We rigorously honour our safeguarding duties and when we are aware of any allegations we report them to the police and they are investigated.

In the last 19 years there have been no child protection rulings that have found us falling short of safeguarding the people in our care. We are a large community and there is always the possibility that people within it may engage in inappropriate conduct. If we had been aware of sexual assaults taking place on our premises we would have reported these to the police and the local safeguarding board. So you can understand that I am taken aback by allegations which now present themselves years later about which I knew nothing.

We will cooperate with the police fully. If these allegations are true, I am filled with horror at the thought that someone may have been harmed in our care and we were not aware of it.

For the last 8 months Kids Company has been at the receiving end of a systematic set of allegations. To date, they have all been unfounded. If it is found that we have fallen short, we will engage in the reparation that is required to honour the trust of those who support us and the extraordinarily courageous children, young people and families who turn to us for care.

We work in very challenging neighbourhoods where survival presents with complexities and every day we endeavour to do our best, to make the right choices.

Kids Company has been transparent, open, inviting of scrutiny and rigorous in aiming for quality. We have a pool of some 8,000 volunteers and approximately 500 students comprising of trainee social workers and Allied Health professionals working with us annually. To date none of them have reported any child protection failings.

Kids Company will share, very openly, any information we can to bring clarity to these allegations. But until the police investigation informs us of the presenting allegations, we cannot comment publicly. My team and I are strengthened by the fact that our supporters understand the clarity of our intentions and our resolve to stand strongly by our children and young people through this adversity.

 

With love

 

Camila

Marianna Davis

Head of Communications and Press

KIDSCOMPANY

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Anna Butterworth
Date: 31 July 2015 at 12:25
Subject: [all-staff] messages of support
To: All Staff

Dear all,

I wanted to share some heartwarming messages of support to you all by our amazing supporters.

These have come through public channels like Twitter and Facebook so everyone can see how much they believe in us and the work we do.

Sophie Dahl:

A message from @KidsCompanyUK

Please don’t let allegations undermine the crucial work they’ve been doing for years.http://www.kidsco.org.uk/

 From Facebook:

“To all at Kids Company, your supporters believe an trust in you and recognise you have been open and honest in the face of unfounded allegations from what could be perceived as a smear campaign. Your supporters know how deeply you and your staff care and want to heal the children & families you work with and this is why it’s hard to believe these rumours. Stick with it! ‘Your’ kids need you!”

“No one who loves Kid’s Company, Camila, and everything that she and the work stands for, could believe these vile and sad allegations. It reeks of conspiracy to discredit, whether due to personal grudges and/or those in “authority” not liking the messages coming across that Government isn’t doing enough for vulnerable children. Sending love and huge belief in all you do so wonderfully xx”

“camila you and kids company are total hero’s and anybody who knows anything about the work you do and the social make up of London knows that without you alot of kids would have had their lives ruined. Much love and respect to you all.”

**CHANGE OF NUMBER**

We have moved office so please call me on my mobile number

Anna Butterworth

Campaigns and Marketing

On 31 July 2015 at 16:36, Marianna Davis <> wrote:

Dear all,

For your information, this is the statement we are issuing to press ahead of the 6pm BBC news tonight. It will also be on the 10pm news and Newsnight. The website will be updated with our latest statements.

Many thanks

Maz

STATEMENT TO THE BBC BY KIDS COMPANY – 31 JULY 2015

It is with a deep sense of shock and sadness that Kids Company has this morning been made aware of the allegations reported yesterday. Our primary concern is for the wellbeing and safety of those alleged to have been harmed and we are fully co-operating and actively assisting the police with their investigation, which is in its early stages.

As a charity, Kids Company has for 19 years built a community that protects and generates resilience in some of the most vulnerable children, young people and adults in society. We have robust policies and procedures in place to protect our clients and closely supervise and support staff to work safely with them, including reporting any criminal behavior to the police. These policies are externally reviewed regularly by an expert consultant and are governed by a risk sub-committee comprised of senior clinicians and representatives from the Board of Trustees.

All our staff, volunteers and mentors are rigorously trained to uphold their safeguarding responsibilities and when we are aware of any allegations we report them to the police and they are investigated. We have an exemplary record of keeping children and young people safe. Over the last 19 years there have been no child protection rulings that have found us falling short of keeping the people in our care safe. Our first priority is to keep everyone we work with safe.

We urge anyone with concerns or evidence about what has been alleged to contact the police or to call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000

ENDS

Marianna Davis

Head of Communications and Press

KIDSCOMPANY

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Anna Butterworth
Date: 31 July 2015 at 18:03
Subject: Re: [all-staff] updated statement from Kids Company
To: Marianna Davis
Cc: All Staff

Dear all,

We have been given confirmation that we will not be featured on the news tonight. Please don’t share this statement externally.

Hope  you have restful weekends!

Anna

On 30 July 2015 at 20:23, Kids Company <> wrote:

This article is just as damaging ! Sexual allegations against a person or organisation are so damaging! True or false we won’t recover from this !! So sad

Sent from my iPhone

On 30 Jul 2015, at 20:12, Lora Linhares-Marx <> wrote:

The guardian article is better – http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/30/met-police-launch-inquiry-into-kids-company-over-child-abuse-claims

Sent from my iPhone

On 30 Jul 2015, at 19:51, Lucie Fiserova <> wrote:

Sorry everyone,

Read this but you will not like it…

It is disgusting… They just don’t know where to stop.

Kind regards

Lucie

Kids Company charity in police probe – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33726968

* Disclaimer *

The BBC is not responsible for the content of this email, and anything written in this email does not necessarily reflect the BBC’s views or opinions. Please note that neither the email address nor name of the sender have been verified.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: “Camila Batmanghelidjh” <>
Date: Aug 1, 2015 4:12 PM
Subject: [all-staff] Re:
To: “All Staff” <>
Cc:

Dear Team,

I thought I would send you an update. We have had a conversation with the police now. Because the investigation is formal, I can’t comment on the nature of the allegation but what I can tell you is that I am absolutely confident that the outcome will be a positive one, based on the material that they’ve shared with us.

The media frenzy has not calmed down and, therefore, I feel very apprehensive about sending some of you on residential trips with kids when we are dealing with such uncertain times. Obviously this sort of highly toxic coverage will have an impact on our donations and, therefore, on our sustainability. At this stage we have to just keep focused and do our best to keep the children reassured and calm, but I think it’s wise to cancel the residentials, apart from a handful where the proportion of staff who will be away is much smaller.

As you know, I have deep love and respect for all of you and I’m doing this to safeguard you as much as the children. I think it’s important that you’re not far away and without peer support whilst we deal with the machinations of the media.

We’ve had some questions from the Sunday Mail, which suggest to me that they may print an article tomorrow. This is all from the same journalist, Miles Goslett, so whatever he says take it with a pinch of salt. Miles’s capacity for fantasy is very well-developed! If I know any more as to what’s happening next I will immediately inform you. In the meantime it’s business as usual and I suggest that you all report to work, if you’re due to work, and catch up with all your notes on the kids, as well as doing some cleaning if you’re at Kenbury (I know it’s not your favourite thing to do)!

The trustees are regularly meeting twice a day to crisis-manage this situation. They are very committed to arriving at the best solutions for you and the kids.

I remain in awe of you all. You have been utterly amazing, and it’s a measure of the quality you all have that you have continued your commitment to the kids under incredibly difficult circumstances. I’ve also been very impressed with the way you have supported each other. Once again, I want to reassure you that from the material the police have shared with us there isn’t anything that we know of that suggests poor practice on the part of Kids Company.

    The darkness of what is being hurled at us is, at times, overwhelming and deeply sad, because it serves to discredit

    the extraordinary work you’ve been doing and the substantial challenges you negotiate daily. It’s very important for          you to hold on to the truth and the integrity of your experiences. You know that you’ve worked hard and been                 dedicated. You can also see your colleagues endeavour to do their best. No one can take that away from you, and         the legacy of what you give to the children and families resides with them. No amount of media coverage can negate        or dishonour the good you have achieved. So feel proud and soon the truth of how malicious these rumours were will     emerge.

     I will be down to see you all sometime next week.

With huge love,

Camila

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Chief Executive

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh <>
Date: 2 August 2015 at 15:42
Subject: [all-staff] Message from Camila
To: All Staff <>

Dear all,

Since Miles Goslett is sharing our emails, I thought I would begin by sending him all my love and thanking him for clarifying my educational history for me. Next time I might enquire about when the date of my next period is, since he’s so good with numbers! However his psychological abilities need a little bit more development. It is sad that he’s acting so irresponsibly. His capacity for fiction is very amateurish. We’ve gone from being a mismanaged charity to now being a charity of child sexual exploitation! He wouldn’t be passing GCSE English with that sort of plot line!

We know who is briefing him. It’s not the whole staff team, so don’t let Mr Goslett split you and generate suspicion. It’s a classic ploy to make cohesive teams implode.

We are dealing with very uncertain times and undoubtedly this sort of press coverage will have a negative impact on our ability to keep going, because we’re reliant on the good will of the public for donations.

The bit of gossip Miles missed out on is that I did resign to make sure that the organisation could be protected, but the philanthropists said that they wouldn’t put their money in if I went. So the trustees didn’t accept the resignation. For those of you who know me well, you will realise that my commitment is first and foremost to you and the kids, above all else.

The trustees are working around the clock to try and find a workable way forward. At this stage there’s genuinely no plan and it’s literally day-by-day and depending on how things develop. I realise that you’re all anxious about your future and your responsibilities towards the children. As soon as we are clearer about the way ahead, I will contact you. In the meantime, please continue supporting each other and remembering that the work you do has been genuinely transformational in children’s and families’ lives.

After all, if we don’t keep going, my little friend Miles will not have much to write about. I can’t possibly do that to him because he’s clearly very fond of us as his new toy! I’ve identified a really good therapist for him to help sort out his attachment disorder. Over identification with evil isn’t doing him much good. But I always look on the bright side: Miles is getting rich on the back of these cheap stories. It’s just so sad that it’s at the expense of a lot of vulnerable children. I’ll leave the repair of his morality to the church!

With huge love to you all,

Camila

Camila Batmanghelidjh

Chief Executive

KIDSCOMPANY

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Camila Batmanghelidjh <>
Date: 2 August 2015 at 18:01
Subject: [all-staff] Message from the Trustees
To: All Staff <>

Dear All,

We are sorry you haven’t heard from us earlier and we appreciate and understand just how difficult the last few months have been for all of you. It is a testament to your commitment and courage that you have remained calm and professional as you hold and support the children’s needs amidst the current uncertainty.

As trustees we acknowledge that we have not been able to directly communicate with you in the way we would have liked. As you can appreciate, events have been entirely unpredictable, changing hourly. This has required us to focus all our time and energy at trying to stabilise the future for Kids Company. We have been constantly battling against an increasingly difficult wave of negative publicity which is making the task of raising funds and support much harder.

We are acutely aware of your rightful loyalty to your children and young people and we have that in the front of our minds as we try to support the organisation through these difficult days. In the meantime, Colin Whipp, as the Interim Chief Operating Officer is in charge of the operational aspects of the day to day running of the charity, which includes finance and signing off expenditures. Colin reports to the board of Trustee’s and we are, in partnership with Camila, supporting him to make the best decisions for the children and young people. Camila is now formally the President of Kids Company and is concentrating on the clinical and advocacy aspects of our services.

Once again, thank you for your patience and understanding. You are truly an inspirational group and we hope that we can help stabilise this situation soon. We will be in touch again as soon as we have more to tell you.

Thank you all

Alan Yentob, Erica Bolton, Richard handover, Jane Tyler, Sunetra Atkinson, Andrew Webster, Francesca Robinson

The Trustees


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