A health charity boss has been banned by a judge and deemed ‘unfit’ to be a trustee after a company she ran was paid nearly £350,000 of her charity’s money – almost two thirds of its income – over two years.

Judge Peter Hinchliffe said Suzanne Goodband had been paid ‘excessive, unreasonable and disproportionate’ sums for consultancy work for a London health charity, where she was chair of the trustees.

She had been the ‘dominant force’ at the Island Health Trust, based on the Isle of Dogs, between 2015 and 2017, during which she ‘personally benefitted’ from the payments.

She was hauled before the Charity Commission in 2022, with the regulator finding that the payments – which mainly related to investigations into a potential £9.4m deal to sell a building housing an NHS GP’s surgery to developers – represented a conflict of interest.

Now after being found ‘unfit’ to be a charity trustee, but ‘not dishonest,’ she has been banned from taking up any such role for seven years by Judge Hinchliffe at the First-tier Tribunal.

Suzanne Goodband deemed 'unfit' to be a trustee - but 'not dishonest' -  after a company she ran was paid nearly £350,000 of her charity's money

Suzanne Goodband deemed ‘unfit’ to be a trustee – but ‘not dishonest’ –  after a company she ran was paid nearly £350,000 of her charity’s money

The tribunal heard that 66-year-old Ms Goodband is a former nurse, who rose through the health service ranks to eventually take chief executive level roles in the NHS.

The Island Health Trust was set up in 2008 with the primary purpose of owning the property from which an NHS GP service was run on the Isle of Dogs.

Ms Goodband was appointed as chair of the trustees in October 2009 and in 2014 learned of a redevelopment opportunity, which was thought to be worth up to £9.4m for the charity.

Her company, Suzanne Goodband Interim Solutions Ltd, was contracted to work on the plans, at a rate of £1,375 per day, exclusive of VAT.

The company – of which she is ultimately the sole owner – was paid £349,955, including £342,736 in the financial years 2016 and 2017 alone, nearly two thirds of the charity’s total income in those years of £517,614.

However, the development did not go ahead and the charity was left out of pocket.

She ultimately agreed a settlement in a claim brought by the charity, which saw her insurers paying £165,000 to end the case.

However, she was then taken before the Charity Commission, which in 2022 found that there had been ‘misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.’

She did not ‘act in the best interests of the charity in causing or permitting the expenditure of charitable funds on speculative strategic developments and property deals.’

She was banned from being a charity trustee for 12 years, but her disqualification was paused pending an appeal to Judge Hinchliffe at the First-tier Tribunal.

Goodband had been the 'dominant force' at the Island Health Trust, based on the Isle of Dogs

Goodband had been the ‘dominant force’ at the Island Health Trust, based on the Isle of Dogs

Ms Goodband insisted that she had acted with integrity throughout and that the charity contracting her company was ‘necessary’ for it to pursue the development opportunity.

But now, following a hearing last November, Judge Hinchliffe has confirmed Ms Goodband’s disqualification, although cutting it to seven years.

He said Ms Goodband did not ‘lack integrity’ and genuinely believed that she was acting in the charity’s best interests in trying to increase its funds and widen its work.

But she could not ‘see the wood for the trees’ and acted ‘recklessly’ with the result that the charity’s reputation was harmed, he said.

‘The position where over 60% of the income of a charity is spent paying the chair of the trustees is one which the public is unlikely to understand or accept,’ he said.

He said there had been a ‘clear conflict of interest’ in being chair of the trustees and simultaneously personally benefiting from a consultancy contract.

‘The remuneration paid to Ms Goodband by the charity was excessive, unreasonable and disproportionate to any value that the charity received,’ he said.

He continued: ‘Ms Goodband lacks the perspective and objectivity required to effectively discharge a role as a trustee of a charity acting for the public benefit.

‘Therefore, the tribunal comes to the conclusion that Ms Goodband is unfit to be a charity trustee or trustee for a charity.

‘We have concluded that Ms Goodband did not act dishonestly and that she was not primarily motivated by desire to make personal gain and that she did not lack integrity.

‘However, the misconduct or mismanagement for which she was responsible or for which she failed to take adequate steps to avoid has caused significant damage to public trust and confidence in the charity and has potential to have the same effect more widely on other charities.

‘The circumstances in which it arose were obvious and avoidable and Ms Goodband’s conduct was reckless.

‘A disqualification for seven years from the date of this decision would be proportionate to the breaches and failures for which Ms Goodband is responsible and would be sufficient to protect charities.’

Post source: Daily mail

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