They take our money, where’s the scru­tiny?

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

I’d been des­per­ately fend­ing off an on­slaught of cold calls for weeks when a fa­mil­iar num­ber flashed up one evening.

Due to the odd time and the friendly di­alling code I an­swered.

It was Matt from Lan­caster Univer­sity, a friendly chap whose small talk came close to mask­ing his true agenda.

We spoke about the ex­ten­sive cam­pus build­ing work for a bit be­fore he got down to busi­ness. The ‘Col­lege 1,000’ cam­paign was an at­tempt to get as many alumni as pos­si­ble to do­nate £5 a month. The money was to buy new sports kit and help worse- off stu­dents.

It wasn’t a small amount but you did get the chance of win­ning a toy lion, my for­mer col­lege’s mas­cot. As tempt­ing as this was I de­clined, but it made me feel aw­ful, as if I’d just spat in Matt’s face and ru­ined a less for­tu­nate prospec­tive stu­dent’s fu­ture for good mea­sure.

This was char­ity and I was pure evil. But the univer­sity was get­ting loads of cash, enough to re­build the en­tire cam­pus.

Matt said: “I un­der­stand. Maybe the time’s not right.”

Over the past week rev­e­la­tions about Ox­fam and oth­ers have shocked al­most uni­ver­sally.

This week the char­ity’s deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive has re­signed and the or­gan­i­sa­tion faces ac­cu­sa­tions of con­ceal­ing the find­ings of an in­quiry into claims staff used pros­ti­tutes while de­liv­er­ing aid in Haiti in 2011.

Now, while not for a sec­ond would I at­tempt to draw par­al­lels be­tween Matt’s charm­ing at­tempts to raise funds and the ap­palling al­leged ac­tions of Ox­fam’s staff both do re­late to the same is­sue, scru­tiny.

The gov­ern­ment thinks char­i­ties should now dis­close all de­tails of sex­ual mis­con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions but why stop there? Surely, de­spite be­ing pri­vately run, they should be scru­ti­nised just as much as public bod­ies? They’re af­ter our money at the end of the day.

They should cer­tainly not be off-lim­its. We should not feel bad ques­tion­ing their mo­tives or struc­ture be­cause for too long we have and it hasn’t ended well.

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