THE founder of a charity being investigated by police on suspicion of child abuse and sexual offences said she is “taken aback” by the allegations.
Camila Batmanghelidjh said her Kids Company charity would co-operate fully with detectives after Scotland Yard said it was looking into “a number of allegations of crime” at the organisation, including exploitation.
I am taken aback by allegations about which I knew nothingCamila Batmanghelidjh
Ms Batmanghelidjh, who this month stepped down as chief executive following concerns about the charity’s management, said Kids Company has an unblemished safeguarding record since it launched in 1996.
In a statement on the charity’s website, the founder said: “We rigorously honour our safeguarding duties and when we are aware of any allegations we report them to the police and they are investigated.
“In the last 19 years there have been no child protection rulings that have found us falling short of safeguarding the people in our care.
“If we had been aware of sexual assaults taking place on our premises we would have reported these to the police and the local safeguarding board. So you can understand that I am taken aback by allegations which now present themselves, about which I knew nothing.
“If these allegations are true, I am filled with horror at the thought that someone may have been harmed in our care and we were not aware of it.”
The charity describes itself as providing practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children, young people and families.
It has a pool of around 8,000 volunteers and 500 students comprising trainee social workers and health professionals.
Earlier this month, Kids Company said Ms Batmanghelidjh was moving to a new role within the charity as part of a shake-up which the organisation said was prompted by “unprecedented financial strain”.
In a statement yesterday, Ms Batmanghelidjh said: “We work in very challenging neighbourhoods where survival presents with complexities and every day we endeavour to do our best, to make the right choices.
“Kids Company has been transparent, open, inviting of scrutiny and rigorous in aiming for quality.
“Kids Company will share, very openly, any information we can to bring clarity to these allegations. But until the police investigation is concluded, we cannot comment publicly. “
Three Kids Company directors left the charity earlier this year, amid what Ms Batmanghelidjh said were “conditions of extreme stress” caused by financial and funding challenges facing the organisation.
At the time, Ms Batmanghelidjh admitted it came close to going bust earlier this year but was given a lifeline after well-known artists including Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin donated works to raise funds.
Anyone with information regarding the abuse inquiry has been asked to contact police on 020 8217 6538, or the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.