The boss of the charity Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, is continuing to lash out at the government and the media over the collapse of her bankrupt group, which she founded in 1996.
However, a report by the Telegraph citing a former Kids Company worker is alleging that she wasted vast amounts of cash on her bizarre and lavishly decorated office. [Here are a few pictures taken by the social work-orientated news website Community Care in 2014.]
According to an unnamed postgraduate student cited by The Telegraph, Batmanghelidjh not only allegedly had a tree in the middle of her office, she also reportedly spent a large amount on decorations and five personal assistants.
“Her office was like an Aladdin’s den, with a tree in the middle, it was bizarre,” added the source, who the Telegraph claims worked for several months as an intern at the charity’s London headquarters.
“I was so pro-Kids Company, but even on day one I just couldn’t believe the waste. The ethos is great and when she first started I think she was very well-intentioned, but having the attention of celebrities around her, her ego seems just to have got bigger and bigger,” the source added.
On Wednesday, Batmanghelidjh confirmed that the charity, which is aimed to help poor and abused children in London, Liverpool, and Bristol, ceased to exist after £6 million ($US9.4 million) in funding was pulled from the government and a private donor this week.
She said that funding was yanked after a report of a child abuse investigation by Scotland Yard and concerns from the UK government about the way it was run. This led to £3 million ($US4.7 million) in funding being withdrawn from a private donor and a further £3 million donation from being currently clawed back, Batmanghelidjh told the BBC.
Kids Company has received £37 million ($US57 million) in government grants since 2005. It also employed 650 people.
The Cabinet Office said in a statement: “The government has supported Kids Company … to help it deliver services for vulnerable young people and so we are disappointed it has been unable to move to a sustainable financial position. The welfare of these young people continues to be our primary concern and we are now working closely with local authorities to make sure they have access to the services they require.”
Blaming the government
Over the last 24 hours, she told the BBC and the Financial Times how she believes the charity was left cashless because the government didn’t like the way she challenged their child protection services.
On BBC Radio 4 yesterday, she said she was “gobsmacked” by the fallout and said the charity has become “a political football for the media and the civil servants.” She even said that the British government was not doing a good enough job in protecting children as the charity was “dealing with too many serious child protection cases that should have been dealt with by government.“
In the FT later that day, she talked about what she thought led to the government pulling its funding.
“There were three drivers that brought this to a head,” she said to the newspaper. “Number one: I kept telling the Cabinet Office enough was enough and we had to get our funding sorted out. Number two: I kept challenging the government about child protection-issues; and number three: I was told about historic child sex abuse . . . involving senior very recent ministers.”
However, the government gave the group the cash for restructuring and on the condition that chief executive Batmanghelidjh stepped down. After Kids Company confirmed in mid-July that Batmanghelidjh would step down in October this year, the funds were sent to its account on July 28.
But following the BBC and Buzzfeed’s reports on Batmanghelidjh spending £800,000 ($US1.2 million) of the £3 million government grant on salaries, the funding was pulled.
Now Batmanghelidjh is frantically fighting allegations of mis-management and overspending at her now defunct charity.