Monday, January 5, 2009
ThirdSector reports that a Charity Commission for England and Wales investigation into whether a Catholic hospital charity was complying with its governing documents has led to a wholesale change in the membership of the charity's board and other significant governance changes. The dispute with the SS John and Elizabeth Charity, that operates a hospital in London's St John's Wood, arose out of complaints from Catholics that the charity was planning to sublet part of its premises to general practitioners who prescribe contraceptives. According to its report, the Charity Commission initially blocked the sublet on the grounds that it violated a provision in the charity's governing documents requiring it to operate in accordance with Roman Catholic teaching and traditions. During the course of its initial investigation, the Charity Commission became particularly concerned with numerous apparent governance problems, including a lack of cooperation of board members with the investigation and serious disagreements between both board members and the board and senior managers. The Charity Commission eventually decided the sublet could proceed, but during the course of its investigation and inquiry ten board members resigned in protest or were not reappointed. The board is also now in the process of adopting a new code of ethics and a revised business plan.