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Friday, 20 October 2017

Kids Company founder clashes with BBC presenter over charity's demise

Written by Jemma Crew

The founder of the now-defunct Kids Company clashed with BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire as she insisted she was not to blame for the charity's demise.

In a heated exchange, the presenter repeatedly asked Camila Batmanghelidjh if she would like to apologise to the children let down by the charity's abrupt closure, and the taxpayers and donors who pledged money to the cause.

The former charity head became increasingly frustrated with the line of questioning, accusing Derbyshire of interrogating her in an "immensely biased" and "highly manipulative" way.

Derbyshire fired back at Ms Batmanghelidjh's attempt to link the presenter's parenting to the charity's policy of cash handouts, saying it was "completely irrelevant" whether or not she gave her child money.

Asked if she would apologise to donors and taxpayers over the charity's spending, Ms Batmanghelidjh (pictured) said: "I don't think we wasted money. Why are you assuming that we wasted money? Where did that come from?"

Derbyshire put to her instances of a client spending £305 on a pair of shoes, someone's PhD studies being funded, and a stay at Champneys spa for a man with mental health problems who booked a chocolate massage treatment.

She said that these were "minor details" and added: "You're not asking me the questions that really matter, which is: why was Kids Company left with 17,000 children who were statutory responsibility with no-one willing to pay for it?

"Why were we getting that type of child through our doors? Those are the sort of questions you should be asking me."

But Derbyshire pressed on, replying: "No, those are the sort of questions you want me to ask."

The youth organisation folded amid a storm of controversy in August 2015 - days after receiving a £3 million Government grant in a final bid to keep it afloat.

It received more than £42 million of Whitehall funding between 1996 and 2015, a report found.

In July it emerged that Ms Batmanghelidjh and the charity's former chairman, Alan Yentob, face being disqualified from running companies under proceedings brought by the Government.

Asked if she accepted some responsibility for the suffering caused by Kids Company's end, Ms Batmanghelidjh said: "We were not responsible for the closure of this company."

"Not at all?," asked the BBC Two presenter.

"No, and I'm being absolutely clear about that," Ms Batmanghelidjh replied.

A final opportunity to apologise was offered, with Ms Batmanghelidjh responding: "This is a highly manipulative framing of a statement. That is not to say that I don't feel deep sorrow for what happened to the children and the fact that our self-employed staff weren't paid, I loved our donors and I have massive respect for them - without them Kids Company would not have achieved what it achieved.

"But I refuse to play the caricature, the duet that's being created, with the media creating a false story and then forcing me into an apology."

Ms Batmanghelidjh's new book - Kids - Child Protection In Britain: The Truth - was launched this week.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire.