Charity regulator reprimands Fife Animal Trust but stops short of applying for trustees to be disqualified
The trustees of a former Fife animal charity have been blasted as not “fit for purpose” by the charity regulator for breeching strict guidelines.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) said Fife Animal Trust was not run separately from Fife Animal Park Limited which operated at the same location near Cupar, trustees had not fulfilled their duties to safeguard the charity’s assets and had misconducted the administration of the charity.
OSCR made public its findings following the completion of its inquiry into the trust which was brought about due to a complaint made after Fife Animal Park was put up for sale in 2013.
It found that charitable assets, including the animals, machinery and vehicles, were included in the proposed sale and the trust had not been run independently from the commercial business with the owner of the park also the manager of the trust.
Fife Animal Park Limited has since dissolved and the trust closed the park in February 2014, rehoming over 70 species of animals including zebra, meerkats and water buffalo.
OSCR has decided “after careful consideration” against applying to have the trustees disqualified as acting as charity trustees in the future as the animals' welfare had been safeguarded and the charity is in the process of liquidation.
Instead the regulator fired out a warning to other charity trustees, reminding them they have a duty to ensure appropriate and effective financial policies and practices are in place to safeguard a charity, its assets and its staff.
It said boards should be made up of trustees with appropriate business skills, training should be offered training when appropriate and when a charity’s trustees are involved with running another body which the charity has a financial or contractual relationship with it should appoint additional independent trustees to the board.