Charity Commission has launched statutory inquiry into the Captain Tom Foundation
A private firm run by Captain Sir Tom Moore’s daughter “may have generated significant profit” from trademarking his name, the charity watchdog warned as it launched an inquiry into the foundation set up in the veteran’s honour.
The Charity Commission said it had concerns including the foundation’s independence from his family and firms connected to them, as well as the trustees’ decision-making. It follows the launch of a compliance case in March last year.
Announcing it had escalated its action to an inquiry, the commission said it was concerned that a “failure to consider intellectual property and trademark issues” when the charity was set up gave Club Nook Limited the opportunity to trademark variations of the name “Captain Tom” without objection from the charity.
The watchdog warned this “may have generated significant profit for the company”, which is controlled by Captain Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband, Colin Ingram-Moore.
The inquiry, launched on 16 June, will probe whether trustees have “been responsible for mismanagement and/or misconduct in the administration of the charity and whether, as a result, the charity has suffered any financial losses, including through any unauthorised private benefit to any of the current or previous trustees”.
It will also look at whether trustees have “adequately managed conflicts of interest, including with private companies connected to the Ingram-Moore family and “complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law”.
Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “The late Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired the nation with his courage, tenacity and concern for others. It is vital that public trust in charity is protected, and that people continue to feel confident in supporting good causes.
“We do not take any decision to open an inquiry lightly but in this case our concerns have mounted. We consider it in the public interest to examine them through a formal investigation, which gives us access to the full range of our protective and enforcement powers.”
The charity set up in the name of Captain Tom – who raised nearly £39m for NHS Charities Together walking laps of his garden during the Covid lockdown – has been beset by controversy in recent months.
Accounts published in February showed that the foundation had paid tens of thousands of pounds to firms run by the veteran’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and son-in-law, Colin. The accounts described the transactions as reimbursements.
The Independent also reported how it had been told part of the Charity Commission’s compliance case related to a request from the foundation to appoint Ms Ingram-Moore as CEO on a six-figure salary – with the watchdog blocking the appointment last summer.
The foundation’s chair of the board of trustees said Ms Ingram-Moore “took the decision that the CEO role was not something she wished to pursue”, although she was appointed on an interim basis.
In its update, the Charity Commission confirmed that it refused permission to employ Hannah Ingram-Moore as chief executive on a salary of £100,000, because it considered the proposed salary “neither reasonable nor justifiable”.
The watchdog added that it “permitted” the charity to appoint Ms Ingram-Moore as interim CEO on a £85,000 a year salary on a three-month rolling contract for up to nine months while trustees carried out an “open recruitment process”.
The commission said its case “identified potential concerns about payments of consultancy fees and payments to related third parties” in the foundation’s accounts published in February.
The accounts revealed that £54,039 had been paid to two companies run by Captain Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband. They also showed that more money was spent on management costs than was given to charities.
However, the commission said it was satisfied that those specific payments “are reasonable reimbursement for expenses incurred by the companies in the formation of the charity”.
The watchdog added that it “is also satisfied that any conflicts of interest in relation to these third-party payments were adequately identified and managed”.
The money raised by Sir Tom for NHS Charities Together is not part of the scope of the watchdog’s inquiry, it added.
Stephen Jones, chairman of the board of trustees of the Captain Tom Foundation, said: “We will of course work closely with the commission in its inquiry relating to intellectual property management.
“I note that the trustees confirmed with the commission during the process of registration that the ‘image rights and intellectual property rights of the name were held within a private family trust’, and the commission were aware that this was always intended to be the case.
“We welcome that the Charity Commission today reports that it is ‘satisfied’ in relation to questions that had been raised about the foundation’s annual report which was published in February, and has concluded that payments were reasonable and that conflicts of interest were identified and managed.”
Jack Gilbert, who started as the charity’ chief executive on 1 June, added: “My appointment marks the start of an important period of transformation for the Captain Tom Foundation.
“With a revitalised and more focused mission, in coming months we will be announcing an array of charitable activities at both grassroots and national levels that change the way we think, feel and act towards age and ageing, combat ageism, and build meaningful connections between communities and generations.
“Working with the board, I am using the NCVO-backed Trusted Charities standards to ensure that in all respects, including governance and finance, the foundation conforms to best practice. These will be externally validated as part of the process.”
A statement issued on behalf of Hannah and Colin Ingram-Moore said: “Club Nook Ltd made its application for various trademarks in April 2020 prior to the formation of the Captain Tom Foundation (5 May 2020).”
It added: “Neither Hannah nor Colin Ingram-Moore were trustee directors of the Captain Tom Foundation upon its formation.”
Public records show that Club Nook Ltd has been used to trademark a series of names associated with the veteran including “Captain Tom”, “Sir Tom Moore”, and “Captain Sir Tom”.
The trademarks relate to a series of goods and services including DVDs, CDs, books, mugs, cups, clothing, footwear, badges, coffee and tea.
Trademarks were filed for the latter two names on 26 May 2020, with the former on 18 May 2020.
Separately, in August 2020, Club Nook filed to trademark “Captain Tom” in additional goods and services classes for alcoholic drinks including ales, beer, as well as vodka, whiskey, wine and gin.