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Donor who pledged £3m to Kids Company pulled amid sex abuse scandal

Camila Batmanghelidjh
Camila Batmanghelidjh

A donor who had pledged £3 million to Kids Company pulled out as soon as they learned of allegations of abuse and sexual offences related to the leading children's charity, its founder has said.

Kids Company closed its doors on Wednesday evening after running out of money.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, who founded the charity 19 years ago, has now said a philanthropist who was going to make a huge donation pulled out after hearing of the police investigation.

Ms Batmanghelidjh told the BBC that within 20 minutes of a Cabinet office grant, also of £3 million, being handed to the charity last week, "the police call out of the blue to say that there's been allegations of sexual abuse related to Kids Company".

She added: "Within the hour this is all over the news that Kids Company is being investigated ... the minute the philanthropist discovers that this is on the cards - they freak and then they don't put their money in, so then the deal breaks down."

Ms Batmanghelidjh was speaking on BBC Radio 4, in an interview to be broadcast in full at 8pm.

She has blamed "rumour-mongering civil servants" and "ill-suited ministers" for the charity's demise.

After the doors closed for the last time, graffiti above the brass Kids Company sign in Bristol read "RIP" with a cross underneath and "THE BEST PLACE THERE WAS" written to one side.

She said the closure meant "the doors have to shut" and "we've had to abandon a lot of children".

She called on Prime Minister David Cameron to explain what would now happen to the thousands of vulnerable children helped in 11 street centres and 40 schools.

The Government has said it is working with local authorities to ensure the young people affected are looked after.

A spokeswoman said: "The Government has supported Kids Company over the last seven years 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."

In a statement, the charity's trustees said its priority was to "secure a future" for the children it had helped after the "sad end" of Ms Batmanghelidjh's organisation, adding that its closure will leave " many thousands of vulnerable children, young people and families without hope".

In her own statement, Ms Batmanghelidjh added: "I apologise to all the courageous and dignified young people who have touched our hearts and made us brave."

The organisation works with 36,000 children and young people, and officials, charities and councils have been in discussions preparing for the impact the closure could have.

The youth charity had been hit by allegations of bad financial management, prompting its high-profile founder to quit as chief executive.

Ministers Oliver Letwin and Matthew Hancock agreed to give extra money to help restructure the charity, despite official objections from a Whitehall mandarin who warned they did not think it would offer "value for money".

Kids Company received a £3 million grant from the Cabinet Office after agreeing, on the orders of the Government, to make changes in its leadership, management and governance.

But Ms Batmanghelidjh emailed staff within the charity last week to say they would be paid using some of the grant money, according to the BBC.

It has been reported that the Cabinet Office is making plans to claw back the grant because it believes conditions attached to the use of the money were not met.

Ms Batmanghelidjh has refuted this, saying they had informed the Cabinet Office that some of the money would go towards staff salaries, and had received no response to say that it should not be.

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman, whose constituency of Camberwell and Peckham is served by Kids Company, demanded a plan to ensure the vulnerable youngsters the charity works with are cared for.