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Attorney General wins fight over trustee removed from disabled police officers' charity

By Alan Erwin

Published 21/10/2016

Attorney General John Larkin
Attorney General John Larkin

The Attorney General has won his appeal against a tribunal's decision to uphold the removal of a senior civil servant from his role as a trustee of the Northern Ireland Disabled Police Officers' Association (DPOA) charity.

John Larkin QC told a High Court judge yesterday that the relevant authority was no longer standing over the determination reached against Robert Crawford.

He said: "Your Lordship is invited to make an order that the appeal should be allowed on the grounds of insufficiency of reasons."

Mr Crawford's case will now be remitted to a newly constituted tribunal for a fresh hearing on the matter.

In 2014, he was suspended from the association along with chief executive Elaine Hampton and three other trustees pending the outcome of a Charity Commission investigation into its governance and financial controls.

All five of the association's officers denied any wrongdoing.

At a hearing last year, it was claimed that Mr Crawford, who sat on the audit committee, allowed a conflict of interests to develop over declarations to the inquiry about his relationship with Ms Hampton.

He maintained the issue was always managed appropriately.

Mr Larkin became involved in the case after The Charity Tribunal upheld the decision to remove Mr Crawford from the DPOA.

He applied for High Court permission to appeal, arguing that the tribunal wrongly concluded that the step was necessary and had offered no satisfactory reasoning.

Mr Larkin claimed it reached flawed conclusions on the basis of other trustees withdrawing their appeals.

He also contended that the Tribunal offered no satisfactory reasoning or finding about what amounted to relevant misconduct or mismanagement.

The Charity Commission had opposed the Attorney General's intervention, stressing that he was not involved in the original tribunal hearing.

However, Mr Larkin told the court yesterday: "The commission doesn't seek to stand over the judgment of the tribunal."

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