A GROUP set up to support ex-servicemen and women in memory of a paratrooper killed in Afghanistan has been criticised by Scotland’s charity watchdog.
The Mark Wright Project offers “services to those suffering from combat/conflict trauma and stress” and supports “families suffering from bereavement or loss of a son or daughter killed or wounded in military combat”.
However, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) published a scathing report yesterday on the management of the Midlothian-based veterans’ organisation, saying it had “drifted from these purposes”.
Staff and directors at the charity did not have “training for dealing with clients who suffered conflict trauma stress” – one of the key aims of the group – the authors of the report said.
The regulator said the board of the charity, which raised more than £230,000 in 2011, had “collectively failed in their duties” in supporting some veterans who had eventually been forced to seek alternative help.
The charity, which runs drop-in centres for veterans and their families, was established in memory of Corporal Mark Wright, who died on active duty following an explosion in Afghanistan in 2006. Corporal Wright was posthumously awarded the George Cross.
There was also criticism of the conduct of one of the charity’s trustees, Robert Wright, the father of the dead soldier, who “fell short of the standards we would expect from a charity trustee”, the OSCR claimed.
The regulator’s report referred to his “confrontational” behaviour and “disproportionate role in decision making” at the charity.
The regulator investigated the charity following a series of allegations, including one that an employee had been dismissed “because they raised concerns about a director” and that an appointment had been made on the “basis of nepotism rather than in the best interests of the charity”.
The Mark Wright Project yesterday issued a statement accepting the bulk of the OSCR report.
However, the charity said that it had already addressed many of the recommendations and claimed that an employment tribunal had ruled in its favour regarding the dismissal of a former employee.
In a statement, it said: “The current directors acknowledge the report’s findings as largely accurate and recognise our need to learn from the experiences of the last 18 months.
“Many of the recommendations have already been actioned with the remainder due to take effect in the coming quarter.
“The project is pleased to report that even during the course of OSCR’s investigations, services provided to the veterans’ community were maintained and improved.”