Architecture charity Article 25 has defended its procedures after it emerged its bookkeeper, who was imprisoned for stealing £260,000 from it, had previously been convicted of another charity fraud
Last month Scott William Golding was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty of false accounting and using the charity’s money to pay for designer goods from stores including Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Prada and Harrods.
Following sentencing it was confirmed that Golding, who had left the charity with just £611 in its account, had previously been convicted of stealing £9,500 from the Bristol children’s hospital charity, Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal.
Golding joined Article 25 in 2013, having served a six-month prison sentence for his previous crime. He used his middle name, William, during the 18 months he worked for the charity.
The latest revelation has raised questions about how thorough Article 25’s vetting process had been prior to Golding’s appointment.
Article 25 trustee and former chair of trustees, Jack Pringle, defended the charity’s actions.
He said: ‘We of course immediately checked our hiring protocols and, in truth, we followed all the right procedures that any of us would in a well-run office.
’References were taken and they checked out. In addition, no alarms were triggered as he used a false name with a false passport which even the police checks, after the theft occurred, did not rumble.
‘Article 25 is now super-vigilant’
’Spent convictions, as he had, would not show up at the level of HR check allowed for such a post, even if we had had his right name. It’s only normal to carry out criminal record checks in connection with people who will directly work for schools, hospitals and such institutions – but even if we had carried out a criminal record check, it would not have picked him up, due to his name change.’
Pringle added: ‘Naturally Article 25 is now super-vigilant and will double-check the background of any new appointee. Once bitten, twice shy.’
To avoid other charities falling victim to fraudsters, fellow Article 25 trustee and ING Media founder Leanne Tritton suggested the Charity Commission ‘establish a database with photos of known and convicted fraudsters who operate in the charity sector’.
Sunand Prasad, current chair of trustees at Article 25
’Except for certain clearly defined posts, such as those that involving security or working with vulnerable people the level of allowable criminal record check will only reveal unspent convictions. The reason is obvious as it is against the law generally to refuse employment to someone for having a record if the conviction is spent. This helps to explains why such checks are not common. I have asked other architects and professionals and found so far no instance, except in the clearly defined instances mentioned above, of any criminal record check even for staff handling money matters.
’The level of check commensurate with the the post Golding had applied for would not have revealed anything, as he had served his sentence.
’The key point is that in conducting business we all rely on trust, even though it is sometimes, sadly, abused.’