UK watchdog rebukes India-linked charity over sex abuse case


The Grail Trust is a well known charity in India.
The Grail Trust is a well known charity in India.

The UK’s Charity Commission today criticised the trustees of Grail Trust for its “inadequate” handling of an allegation of child abuse involving a person connected with its India partner GTI, which has now closed.

The allegation involved the person connected with the charity at a children’s home in India run by Grail Trusts partner charity – Grail Trust India (GTI).

The UK-based Grail Trust raised funds for and provided financial support to GTI to run the home and representatives of the charity periodically visited the home.

The Commission carried out an initial investigation after being notified of the allegation in August 2011.

This led to a statutory inquiry, which examined how the trustees dealt with the allegation and the charitys procedures and approach to safeguarding.

“The Commission does not investigate allegations of abuse but intervenes to ensure that trustees are protecting their charity and its users.

“The allegation is still being investigated by the appropriate overseas authorities and although the inquiry had been awaiting the outcome of the criminal case, given the time that has passed, the Commission has decided to conclude its own investigation,” the commission said in a statement today.

The inquiry found that the initial response by the trustees to the allegation was inadequate as they did not report the allegation and “were not impartial in considering the allegation, which they publically rejected”.

“The inquiry found this was both inappropriate and risked damaging the charitys reputation. The inquiry also found that the charity’s trustees had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that safeguarding measures undertaken by GTI were adequate,” the commission added.

The inquiry concluded that there had been serious “governance failures” in the charity and that the trustees were responsible for misconduct and mismanagement due to their mis-handling of the allegation of abuse; their failure to ensure that there were proper safeguarding systems in place at GTI and their failure to fully understand that their safeguarding obligations extended to visitors from the charity to GTI.

As a result, the commission issued the trustees with a formal action plan to ensure the trustees understood their safeguarding responsibilities and put adequate measures in place to manage the risks to the charity?s beneficiaries.

The Commission is currently monitoring compliance with this action plan, and is satisfied that the trustees are acting on the regulatory advice given.

Michelle Russell, director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement, said: “This is very concerning. It is another case where trustees do not take abuse allegations seriously nor ensure there are proper safeguarding protections in place to protect children.”

Russell said trustees have a duty to act in the best interests of the charity and this includes having adequate safeguarding policies in place and fully implementing them.

Grail Trust, dating back to 1976, lists its primary objective as the advancement of religion and education and the relief of poverty.

The charity provides financial support and advice to Grail Trust India (GTI), an Indian registered society which helps disadvantaged children in south India.