Canal & River Trust: Falsification of Annual Report

Allan Richards made this Freedom of Information request to Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Charity Commission for England and Wales should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Charity Commission for England and Wales,

Background
==========

On 10/5/2021 I raised concerns regarding Canal and River Trust. This was logged under CRM:1146792.

CRT admits falsification of its Annual Report (i.e. the 2019/20 Annual Report approved by its Trustees and subsequently received by its Council, filed at Companies House and published on its website). The falsified Annual Report was used to replace the approved report on CRT's website and used as the TAR filed with yourselves. Due to the agreement with Defra, its major funder, CRT's actions have put current and future income at risk.

Current Situation
==============

CRT have changed the falsified annual report published on its website back to its approved report. However, the same can not be said for the TAR filed with the Charity Commission. Some four months after I raised my concerns, the falsified annual report remains published with a filing date of 22/12/2020.

I am informed by the Trust the the Charity Commission requires it to take no further action in the matter.

My Request
==========

Please provide me with all information held relating to this matter such that it can be pursued via the Waterways Ombudsman.

Kindest Regards

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Dear Charity Commission,

My understanding is that you should respond promptly to this request and by 8 October at the latest.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Richards

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FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Dear Mr Richards

Thank you for your email.  Please find your Freedom of Information request
response attached.

Please do not reply to this email.
Please email [1][email address] to submit another FOI
or [2][email address]  if you wish to contact the DPIR team
or request a review of your FOI response.
If you wish to contact the Commission about anything else please use the
contact details on the following link:
[3]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

Yours sincerely

Mrs L Whitehurst
Data Protection and Information Rights team
 
 
 

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Dear FOI Requests,

My request was -

Please provide me with all information held relating to this matter such that it can be pursued via the Waterways Ombudsman.

Your response indicates that you hold information relating my request but does not include that information.

On that basis I look forward to all a full disclosure of all recorded information.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Charity Commission. We will respond within 20 working days.

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Dear FOI Requests,

Further to my communication just sent, I note that, under FOI, you are required to respond by 8 October.

I am treating your response today as a partial response as, at least it confirms that you hold information related to my request.

I look forward to a full response containing all the information held on or before the 8th.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Dear FOI Requests,

You should provide the information requested no later than today (8 October).

Yours sincerely,

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Dear Mr Richards

Thank you for your email.  Please find your Freedom of Information request
response attached.

Please do not reply to this email.
Please email [1][email address] to submit another FOI
or [2][email address]  if you wish to contact the DPIR team
or request a review of your FOI response.
If you wish to contact the Commission about anything else please use the
contact details on the following link:
[3]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...

Yours sincerely

Mrs L Whitehurst
Data Protection and Information Rights team

 
 
 
 

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Dear Charity Commission for England and Wales,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Charity Commission for England and Wales's handling of my FOI request 'Canal & River Trust: Falsification of Annual Report'. This request was submitted to you at the same time as an associated complaint (that a falsified Annual Report had been allowed to remain on your website).

(For brevity, CC has been used for Charity Commission and CRT for Canal & River Trust. TAR has been used for Trustees' Annual Report).

I would like the review to to cover -

1. Response of 6 October 2021
=========================

I asked "Please provide me with all information held relating to this matter ...". On the assumption that CC staff involved in request are familiar with the Commissions obligations under the Act, I would like the reviewing officer to consider if the initial response was simply an attempt to block access to the information contrary to Section 77 FOI.

2. Out of time - Response of 9 October 2021
====================================
The FOI Act requires that you respond promptly and, in any case, within 20 working days. I would like the reviewing officer to acknowledge that the refusal notice was issued outside the required time frame.

3. “The Commission is aware of the error made by the charity in their TAR for the 2019/20 submission".
=====================================================================================

CC repeat this assertion on both 6 October and 9 October. I stated in my request "CRT admits falsification of its Annual Report". CC does not dispute this but may be suggesting that the falsification was made in error. Whilst I accept that CRT could have falsified its TAR in error (e.g. it could have unwittingly filed a draft TAR rather than the approved TAR), that is not what happened in this case. I would ask the reviewing officer to read CRT's letters dated 4 June and 10 June and confirm that falsification of the TAR was a deliberate act (which CRT proposed to remedy by replacing its falsified TAR with its approved TAR on CC's website) rather than due to an error .

4. Letter sent to the trustees in June 2021
===================================

Both your responses state:

"In a letter sent to the trustees in June 2021 the Commission reminded the trustees to be mindful when submitting future accounts and it is their duty and responsibility to the public and Commission to provide accurate and correct information"

This is just plain sloppy on the part of CC. It was the TAR that was falsified (not the accounts contained therein).

CRT's letters dated 4 June and 10 June suggest that 8 out of its 10 trustees were completely unaware that the chief executive, chair and deputy chair had conspired to falsify the approved TAR. As such, the advice given (even if it was changed to "TAR" did not deal appropriately with the circumstances of the case. I feel a better course of action would have been to take up CRT's voluntary offer and provide the trustees with advice regarding dealing with the situation (or take regulatory action if appropriate).

I do not require that the reviewing officer responds to this particular point as it is best dealt with via my associated complaint.

5. Section 31(1)(g) - Public Interest Test

I accept that section 31(1)(g) is engaged but feel that that the public interest test has not been properly applied. It appears simply to be "cut & paste" stating CC policy rather than dealing with the specifics of this particular case. Also the examples given do not relate to this case.

Taking the two "prejudices" in turn -

"The likely prejudice identified by the Commission is that it [i.e. publication] would undermine the efficient and effective regulation of charities."

I feel the exact opposite in this case. CRT's proposed remedy was to submit its approved TAR to CC to replace its falsified TAR. However, CC have not taken this up leaving the falsified TAR displayed on its website. Publication of the requested information would enhance the the efficient and effective regulation of charities by making CC more mindful of its duties and responsibilities in future.

"Another likely prejudice if this information (about factors relevant to our decision) is disclosed is that organisations in which the Commission has a regulatory interest may not be willing to voluntarily rectify loss etc ..."

This is not relevant to this case as CRT were willing to voluntarily rectify its falsified TAR.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am asking for "all information held relating to this matter" not just correspondence between CC and CRT .

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Allan Richards left an annotation ()

A link to my request for review has been sent to -
RIGA@charitycommission.gov.uk

Dear Charity Commission,

Yesterday, I received a letter from Anne Reading, Head of Casework. In it, she admitted that it was wrong for the Commission allow a falsified TAR to remain on its website and not require the Canal & River Trust to submit the report approved by its board (as it had offered to do).

I would suggest that a strong public interest exists in understanding how the Commission made this decision and why no action has been taken regarding the two directors who allowed the falsification to occur.

I note that my request for review was made on 11 October and you have provided no explanation for your failure to respond within 20 days.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Charity Commission. We will respond within 20 working days.

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Dear Charity Commission,

Three months ago, I requested a review of my refused request "Canal & River Trust: Falsification of Annual Report".

To date, you have have provided no substantive response.

Please confirm your intention to respond within the next 24 hours, explaining the delay and giving me a timescale for completion of your review.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Richards

FOI Requests, Charity Commission for England and Wales

Thank you for submitting your Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the
Charity Commission. We will respond within 20 working days.

If you have used this email address for a query that is not an FOI
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RIGA, Charity Commission for England and Wales

Dear Mr Richards,
 
Please accept my apologies for the Commission not being able to respond to
your request for an internal review in a more timely manner.  We are
currently dealing with a large workload.
 
I will do my best to ensure that you receive a response by the end of
January.
 
I am sorry for any inconvenience.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Lucy Breakspere
Senior Information Rights Officer
 
 
 

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Dear Riga

I refer to my request - "Canal & River Trust: Falsification of Annual Report".

Your delayed response to my request for review made on 11 September 2021 is still awaited.

I am particularly disappointed that, having stated that you would do your best to provide a response by the end of January, you have not contacted me to explain the further delay.

A full history of this request may be found at - https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Regards

Allan Richards

RIGA, Charity Commission for England and Wales

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Dear  Allan Richards

Thank you for your email

Please find attached the Commission's response to your request for a
decision review.

Yours sincerely

Data Protection and Information Rights Team

Charity Commission

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