Press release: Rainbow Rooms: trustee lied to commission and charity

The Charity Commission (’the commission’) today published a report of its inquiry into Rainbow Rooms LGBT UK Ltd (‘the charity’). The commission’s inquiry considered whether there was any risk to users of the charity, the suitability of an individual to act as trustee and chief executive officer, and whether there was misconduct and mismanagement on the part of the trustees.

The charity was registered with the commission in March 2010. It was established to provide information, advice, services and support for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender young people and their families.

The commission received information in July 2013 that William Clark, chief executive officer and trustee of the charity was under police investigation and that evidence had been gathered by the police which suggested he had made a false declaration to the commission. The provision of false or misleading information to the commission is a criminal offence under the Charities Act 2011.

Given the serious nature of the concerns raised, the commission opened a statutory inquiry in October 2013 after liaising with the police and other agencies. The regulator found the charity had not operated since March 2013 therefore no young people were currently at risk. There were no outstanding questions around the administration, governance and management of the charity.

The inquiry found that Mr Clark had failed to obtain a CRB check as it would have disclosed his previous convictions and prevented him from undertaking his role. He had then lied to the other trustees and to the commission to further cover up his previous convictions. His actions meant that the charity and its users were exposed to a safeguarding risk they could neither identify nor manage. The commission referred its evidence to the police for further consideration and concluded that there had been serious misconduct by Mr Clark.

On 12 November 2015, Mr Clark was sentenced to a total of 28 months’ imprisonment for offences relating to indecent images of children and voyeurism; he was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and was required to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. He was sentenced to 4 months’ imprisonment (to be served concurrently) for supplying false or misleading information to the commission.

The charity was removed from the commission’s register of charities on 7 March 2014, as it had ceased to exist.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said:

This case shows that misleading the commission is a serious offence that has very real consequences. The individual showed a blatant disregard for the law, and put young people at risk. We welcome the robust sentence passed down in this case, and hope it may act as a deterrent to those who may attempt such serious misconduct.

The commission takes child protection and safeguarding of young people very seriously and expects charities to do so. Our message is clear: Charities working with vulnerable groups have to make sure their users are safe and protected from harm. Trustees have a responsibility to ensure that they carry out the appropriate level of checks on people in the charity including their fellow trustees, employees and volunteers who work with children and adults who may be vulnerable. The Disclosure and Barring Service provides further guidance on this.

The commission works collaboratively with the police and child protection agencies in this area, as this case shows.

The full report is available on GOV.UK.


PR 13/16

Notes to editors

  1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.

  2. Search for charities on our online register.
  3. Details of how the commission reports on its regulatory work and guidance on protecting vulnerable groups can be found on GOV.UK.
  4. The Disclosure and Barring Service provides eligibility, workforce and supervision guidance for those working with children and adults.

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