Bryan Gunn Appeal is closed as Charity Commission investigates
- Credit: Â©Archant Photographic 2010
A high-profile charity launched by former Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn has been shut down by the industry watchdog as part of an investigation into how £250,000 of donated cash has not been passed on to charities.
The Bryan Gunn Appeal, which has raised more than £1m to tackle childhood leukaemia since being launched 20 years ago, has had its bank accounts halted by The Charity Commission, which has also appointed an interim manager to take control.
The move comes as part of a probe into the appeal's parent company, The Dove Trust, based at Bawdeswell, near Fakenham, launched after 'serious concerns' were raised over the trustees' financial management.
The Commission has also closed down the fund-raising website www.charitygiving.co.uk – also run by the Dove Trust, as part of the investigation.
That move came after the Commission said it found a shortfall of £250,000 between the amount of money donated to the Trust through its website, and the amount actually handed out to charities.
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Mr Gunn, Keith Colman, and Mark Hall, the trustees of The Dove Trust, have all been excluded from control.
Norfolk police confirmed yesterday the situation was not being treated as a criminal matter.
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Pesh Framjee, the newly appointed interim manager of the Trust from Crowe Clark Whitehill, a national tax, audit and advisory firm, confirmed the trustees of the Dove Trust had not filed any accounts since 2009 and that its banks were instructed not to receive further funds because of the current financial situation.
'This situation could not be allowed to continue', he added. 'It was agreed that further funds should not be received to ensure that they were not tainted by the problems of the past.'
Mr Gunn, who played more 477 games for Norwich and later went on to manage them, set up the appeal with his wife, Susan, in 1993 in memory of their two-year-old daughter, Francesca, who died from leukaemia.
It touched the hearts of the county and in 2011 it was revealed that more than £1m had been raised.
It is classed as a charitable activity of The Dove Trust, and shares the same registered charity number.
The Charity Commission confirmed that it was also under the control of the interim manager, subject to the on-going investigation and cannot receive further funds.
When we contacted Mr Gunn he said we should contact the interim manager for any comments as 'the trustees are not able to discuss the situation at this present time'.
Meanwhile, the fundraising portal charitygiving.co.uk, a page which sees thousands of fundraisers sign up for money to be donated to their cause, has also been suspended and its bank accounts restricted as it is also run by the Dove Trust.
Mr Framjee said the Commission acted to restrict movement on the charity's bank accounts to prevent payments leaving without approval from the Commission.
The Dove Trust's founder, Keith Colman, an accountant who lives in Bawdeswell could not be contacted.
But the Dove Trust's website says: 'We can confirm that the Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the Dove Trust, who operate the online donations portal www.charitygiving.co.uk.
'We are currently working with the Charity Commission to consider as a matter of urgency the next steps in order to protect existing funds the public has donated, and any future donations. We recognise this will cause concern among the charities and donors using the website.'
The interim manager is trying to identify how much is still payable to which charities and what funds are available to pay them so it is not yet clear how long the websites will be suspended for.
The Charity Commission have said funds donated on or after July 12 should be automatically directed back to the donor through the banking system. Donors should check their bank accounts to ensure this has happened and if not, contact the interim manager by emailing DoveTrustInterimManager@crowecw.co.uk or phoning 0207 842 7313.