Northamptonshire air ambulance charity boss denies using funds to meet celebrities

The boss of Northamptonshire's air ambulance service is being investigated by the charities watchdog over claims funds were spent on a celebrity concierge service.

Thursday, 22nd March 2018, 6:05 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd March 2018, 8:05 am
Andy Williamson, left, with Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon in 2012. The chief executive is being investigated for his membership with a celebrity concierge service.

The Charities Commission has reopened an investigation into the Air Ambulance Service, having previously accused the charity of "serious governance failings" in 2015 when it lost £110,000 during a fundraising event.

It comes after the Sunday Times claimed its chief executive Andy Williamson failed to declare a complimentary membership with the luxury concierge service Sincura.

The company, which arranges meet and greets with various celebrities such as Little Mix and Charlie Sheen, had been brought on board to help the air ambulance raise extra funds during 2016.

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The charity strongly denies allegations Mr Williamson abused charity funds by using the service.

A spokeswoman for the Charities Commision said: “We have reviewed the handling of concerns raised with us about the Air Ambulance Service.

"In light of this, and new concerns that have been raised with us about this charity, we have reopened our regulatory compliance case into the Air Ambulance Service.

"The purpose of our case is to investigate specific concerns raised with us, and to establish more broadly whether the trustees are fulfilling their legal duties and responsibilities, including in overseeing their staff and ensuring that the charity is run for the benefit of the public.

"If we find evidence of abuse, mismanagement, or misconduct we will deal with it firmly and robustly."

The Air Ambulance Service claims Mr Williamson was offered complimentary access to its concierge service and has not worked with Sincura since July, 2016.

A spokesman for charity said: “Our team is focused on raising the vital funds needed to provide lifesaving services through the Children’s Air Ambulance and across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire.

"We always act in the best interest of the communities we serve, and are proud that the money we’ve raised has funded more than 30,000 missions in the past fifteen years.”