The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health has just a few more days to submit its accounts for 2008 before it risks the near certainty of delisting as a charity.
According to the Charity Commission web site, the accounts are now 171 days overdue. Charities have ten months to submit their Annual Return. After this time, they are given warnings and reminders for four months. Failing submission after this grace period, they are given an extra two months with a warning that they will be removed from the register if accounts are not received. It is now just a few days short of that final deadline.
I reported the reason for the delay recently. Scotland Yard have been called into the Prince’s charity as the auditors have been unable to sign off the accounts due to ‘transactional irregularities’. The police are now investigating a possible fraud. At present, there are no details of what has gone on, but it looks likely now that the problem will be terminal for the charity. In addition, a complaint has been made to the Charitiy Commission regarding the involvement of the Prince of Wales in its day to day activities. There are concerns that the Prince has been using the charity as his personal tool for lobying for his views on alternative medicine. That would be against charity rules.
The Charity commission allow charities to continue to operate under exceptional circumstances “under the direct supervision of a case officer” if there are “no continuing risks to donors or beneficiaries”. It is not clear if that condition can be applied.
I have also recently uncovered how Dame Shirley Porter, the disgraced former head of Westminster Council and Tesco heir, has been giving money to Charles to fund his lobbying and has also been regularly donating sizable sums to the Foundation from her own charity pot.
This closure will be a humiliation and bitter blow for the Prince of Wales. His involvement in quackery has brought much criticism as he appears to directly wish to influence the political direction of the NHS by including nonsensical and disproven quack treatments into public healthcare. The closure of the charity will also be a great blow for all alternative therapists in the UK as it has been one of the most powerful voices for the promotion of quackery. It has had the ear of the Department of Health. Its demise will hopefully allow more rational voices to be heard.
And that can only be to the benefit of public health. At present, the charity is a menace. It talks the insidious language of ‘integrated healthcare’ and ‘finding innovative ways to bring people back to health.’ Beneath the rhetoric, is its unscientific promotion of magical thinking, charlatanism and quackery. It is a major diversion from the necessary public debate about how a finite health service provides the best treatments. By systematically undermining the concepts of best evidence and scientific thinking in healthcare, it helps ensure very large problems, such as the provision of expensive and poorly evidenced cancer care drugs, are muddied by fluffy thinking about ‘health freedom’ and ‘personal choice’.
The Quackometer looks forward to its imminent demise. I am not sure what I will blog about when it is gone.
The excellent gimpyblog discusses some potential problems with the Foundation’s accounts here.