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The wildlife charity where Carrie Symonds is head of communications is facing a statutory inquiry by a government watchdog.
The regulator said it had “serious concerns about the charity’s governance and financial management” having begun investigating the Aspinall Foundation last summer.
The non-profit organisation runs several wildlife parks in Kent as well as working to save endangered species around the world.
Symonds, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fiancée, began work at the foundation earlier this year, having been on maternity leave following the birth of their son Wilfred.
A statement from the Charity Commission today said: “The regulator began examining the charity in July 2020 over concerns about the management of conflicts of interest and related-party transactions.
“It opened a regulatory compliance case and began engaging with the trustees regarding these concerns in November of last year, and the trustees have been fully co-operating with the Commission.”
It added: “Since that time, the regulator has identified further questions regarding the charity’s governance, and it will now examine all these issues as part of a formal statutory inquiry.”
The inquiry will look at three issues; firstly, the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees, with specific regard to how conflicts of interest have been dealt with and managed.
Secondly whether or not there has been any “unauthorised trustee benefit”, and thirdly whether or not the trustees have “complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities under charity law”.The regulator said this scope may be expanded during their investigation, but stressed that opening such an inquiry “is not a finding of wrongdoing”.
In response a spokesman for the Aspinall Foundation said: “The Aspinall Foundation remains firmly committed to its ethical and legal duties as a charitable body.
“Our Trustees will continue to work openly and transparently with the Charity Commission to ensure best practice governance and compliance.”
The charity’s trustees had previously commissioned an internal governance review, led by independent specialists, last autumn but it is yet to conclude.