Questions have been raised about the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) spending following an investigation.
The Times published an investigation into the charity’s spending yesterday (March 29).
It accused the organisation of “squandering cash on a failed prosecution, foreign travel, hotel bills and pay rises” — which the charity denies.
The League responded to the article, saying the claims are “malicious nonsense”.
The Times has reported the charity went on a “spending spree” after being left £3.5m in a will from supporter Stan Hales — an industrialist who died in 2013.
The charity then allegedly gave its entire staff a 10% pay rise.
But LACS said that 2014 marked the first pay rise for staff in three years, which it added was justified and overdue, and denied it has spent any of the £3.5m.
“The suggestion that we were ‘saved’ by the legacy is completely unfounded,” said a LACS spokesman.
“It has arrived in instalments, the last of which arrived in January 2016, so we are now deciding how to spend the money.”
Its private prosecution of six members of the Lamerton Hunt — which collapsed three days into its 10-day scheduled trial in December (news, 10 December 2015) — reportedly cost the charity £25,000.
Devon and Cornwall Police had decided the hunt members had no case to answer 18 months previously.
The paper also reported that members of the charity has made repeated trips to Malta to campaign against the shooting of wild birds as well as a trip to America to discuss welfare in greyhound racing with charity Grey2K USA Worldwide.
This is despite claims on the Charity Commission’s website that the League’s areas of operation are England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
In its 1,500-word response, the organisation said and the overseas visits were “totally justifiable”.
“While we focus our work on the UK and only have staff in the UK we also campaign on other international issues that are important to our supporters,” said LACS.
It also said that Grey2K contributed “significant research” to a joint report regarding greyhound cruelty in the UK, which wouldn’t have been possible without a face-to-face meeting.
The Times said “whistleblowers” were allegedly dismissed, which LACS contests.
“It is absolutely wrong to suggest that any individual has been dismissed or faced detrimental treatment for whistleblowing. This is categorically untrue,” said the League’s statement.
One of the “whistleblowers” is reported to have volunteered to hand over evidence to the Charity Commission, but the regulator declined to get involved.
“The issue is why the Charity Commission did not take more seriously complaints about the League that were brought to its attention by a whistleblower,” reads The Times’ leading article.
“It was not as if they were starved of detail. The whistleblower offered chapter and verse on what they believed were failings and misgovernance.”
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said it did receive complaints regarding the use of LACS funds.
“These were matters within the administration of the charity and therefore a decision for the trustees,” he said.
“Although the Commission’s functions include encouraging and facilitating the better administration of charities, and taking remedial action to tackle misconduct or mismanagement, the law prohibits the Commission from acting directly in the administration of a charity.
“The decision-making process of how to apply the charity’s funds rests directly with the trustees of the charity.”
He added that after further concerns were raised, the Commission has contacted the charity and will be meeting its trustees to “clarify these claims” and find out if there are any regulatory issues.