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Kids' Company founder denies 'mesmerising' David Cameron

Published 12/02/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron with Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh
Prime Minister David Cameron with Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh

The founder of Kids Company has denied a claim she was able to "mesmerise" the Prime Minister and senior politicians in order to secure funding for the collapsed charity.

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

Camila Batmanghelidjh said she presented ministers with "robust" arguments and expected them to make their own decisions.

And she told the BBC she had been the victim of malicious media attacks and "very racist" comments in the wake of the charity's demise.

She was responding to a report by the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee earlier this month which criticised the relationship between the Government and Ms Batmanghelidjh.

The report said: "Ms Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company appeared to captivate some of the most senior political figures in the land, by the force of the chief executive's personality as much as by the spin and profile she generated for the charity. As a consequence, objective judgments about Kids Company were set aside."

It added the charity received more than £42 million of Whitehall funding between 1996 and 2015, thanks in some part to Ms Batmanghelidjh winning "unique, privileged and significant access to senior ministers and prime minsters".

But speaking to BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Ms Batmanghelidjh said: "I think that it's sad that people think in this day and age that you can mesmerise people.

"I present arguments that I hope are robust, and people that I deal with, I hope, have the intelligence to scrutinise my arguments and make their own decisions.

"I would put the question to you another way - if I was capable of mesmerising the prime minister of this country, who have you voted for? Because that would be very dangerous."

David Cameron defended his support for Kids Company at the height of the furore, saying he had been right to give the charity "one more go" to continue doing "very good and important work".

In the committee report, MPs called for a "radical change" in charity regulation to prevent a repeat of the debacle.

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