Ally Pally's former chairman of the Board of Charity Trustees will face a standards hearing over the ruinous 8 - month Firoka occupation of the Palace which was somehow allowed to happen, despite the 125-year lease to the company being challenged and found unlawful in the High Court.
Basically the company squatted in the Palace, at the charity's and counciltaxpayer's expense (employees were being paid by the council/trustee) - taking the profits of the exhibition business but paying little or nothing back. Estimates of the cost to the charity vary but run into millions of pounds.
Subsequent reports commissioned by the Council - Walklate 1 and Walklate 2 - found that a "Licence" to occupy had apparently been bulldozed through, without being seen or authorized by the board of trustees or their solicitor. It turned out to have been signed not by the council or any of the trustees but by the General Manager and the trading company's company secretary. Yet the trading company itself only had a licence and had not power to assign the building.
SAP supporter Clive Carter investigated this fiasco and made an official complaint against the former chair of the trustees which is the subject of the hearing. Following that, further action could follow, as clearly what happened involved a huge breach of trust.
Haringey Council Standards Committee will be convening a hearing on 30 March at the Civic Centre after an investigation lasting nearly 12 months, following my complaint against a Member while acting as a Trustee on the Alexandra Palace Trust Board (as Chair). The Complaint follows two council investigations ("the Walklate Reports") into the 'development' of the Licence-to-Firoka.
Firoka were given premature permission to run Alexandra Palace and were eventually evicted by the council, well after the High Court quashed the Charity Commission's Order, and therefore, stalled the 125 year Lease.
During the Firoka occupation, under the Licence, not only did all our charity's trading profits go to Firoka, but on top and as a financial inducement to the property developer, the council contributed a huge subsidy to the private company by way of seconded staff and a long list expenses – all met by Haringey taxpayers.
Losses to our charity as a result of the Licence were calculated in the "Walklate 2" investigation to amount to between £1.5m and £2m.
The Hearing is likely to be open to the public but a decision will be taken about that on the morning of the first day. The report ("Walklate 3") by independent investigator, Martin Walklate, is likely to be made public.
The "Hearing into Complaint SC002/0910:" before Haringey Council's Standards Committee will be at the Civic Centre, Wood Green High Road – probably committee rooms 1& 2, at 10:00am on 30th & 31st March 2011.
Summary of the actions and issues which will be examined:
• Key officer advice against licence (briefing note to chairman), withheld from other Trustees
• Promotion of premature licence to property developer (Firoka, i.e. Firoz Kassam);
• Premature occupation of Charity premises;
• Huge public subsidy to a private company;
• High Court ruling of 5 October 2007, quashing sale;
• Firoka later evicted by council in early 2008;
• Loss to our Charitable Trust estimated at £1.5m to £2m;
• Conflicts of interest galore