Actors’ fund audit row

The Charity Commission has been urged to investigate an #8,500 internal audit of the Actors Benevolent Fund, which former council members claim breached the fund’s articles of association.

The audit, carried out by Ian Gilchrist of Hartley Fowler, was not approved by a quorum of the fund’s council, according to former executive council member Nickolas Grace, who resigned in protest. Grace, who starred in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and ‘Heat and Dust’, said the audit breached the fund’s articles of association.

‘There was no reason for this in-depth audit. It found nothing wrong at all,’ he said. He also alleged that the audit took seven months and said its cost – including the extra expense of representation at a forthcoming industrial tribunal, involving the ABF’s former general secretary Rosemary Stevens – was taking money away from the beneficiaries of the #4.6m fund.

After he was shouted down by those on the floor of the fund’s recent annual meeting, Grace said he hoped to convene an extraordinary general meeting so members could get more information on the fund. He also contacted the Charity Commission.

Fund general secretary Jane Skerrett refused to comment on the row on the grounds that the ABF was involved in the forthcoming industrial tribunal with Stevens.

The commission admitted it was in contact with solicitors acting for the fund ‘in connection with internal administration issues’, but said it was not conducting a statutory inquiry under section 8 of the Charities Act 1992.

Gilchrist challenged the claim that the audit took as long as seven months and refused to comment on its contents. ‘The council was kept fully informed of progress throughout,’ he said. ‘It is a matter between the council and ourselves.’

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