Probe into Norfolk website which left 1,800 charities out of pocket has lasted for two-and-a-half years

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- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008

An investigation into a Norfolk-based website which left some 1,800 charities out of pocket is still ongoing, two-and-a-half years after it was launched.

The Charity Commission shut down the Dove Trust, based at Bawdeswell, near Dereham, in July 2013 amid concerns about its financial management.

At the time the trust, which ran the website charitygiving.co.uk, owed charities all over the country around £2m in money that was donated by members of the public but not passed on.

An independent interim manager was appointed in 2014 and £700,000 was paid back, which meant charities received about 35p in every £1 owed to them. The remaining £1.3m has not been recouped.

As a result of the investigation the website was closed down and its trustees, former Norwich City goalkeeper and manager Bryan Gunn and Donna Naghshineh, were excluded from its control. Keith Colman, the founder of the trust, had already resigned from his position as trustee.

The commission this week declined to answer a series of questions about the case while the investigation was ongoing.

A spokesman said: 'In due course, we will publish a report with our findings and conclusions when the inquiry is completed. We are unable to state when the report will be published since the inquiry remains ongoing.'

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It is estimated that the site was home to more than 4,000 individual fundraising pages.

Norfolk-based charities listed on the website included the Mancroft Advice Project, Families House and Voice for Change as well as national charities such as Christians Against Poverty and Make Poverty History.

A 2013 update on the case by the commission found the assets held by the trust were less than the amounts payable to the charities that should be receiving funds.

It added: 'This means that at any one point in time income received for a charity was being used to make payments to another charity which had earlier receipts that could not be met from existing funds.'

Pesh Framjee, partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill, the interim manager, declined to comment on any latest developments.

Following the scandal it emerged the trust had been investigated by the commission from as early as 2011 over concerns with its financial arrangements.

The trust was the parent company of the Bryan Gunn Appeal, which raised more than £1m to tackle childhood leukaemia since being launched 20 years ago, and was also closed down as part of the investigation.

Were you affected by the collapse of the charity? Contact David Powles on 01603 772478 or email david.powles@archant.co.uk

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