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‘Significant funds’ drained from bar charity’s bank account without permission

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Exclusive: Bridging the Bar says cash has since been returned

A leading bar diversity group says it has permanently removed one of its members after discovering they had transferred “significant funds” from the charity’s bank account to their own personal one.

The unnamed individual did not have permission to move the money between accounts, Bridging the Bar said, adding that it had since taken steps to recover the undisclosed sum.

An email sent this week to the charity’s partner chambers and supporters “in the interests of transparency”, provided further details of the “unfortunate incident”.

“Over the summer, we identified that significant funds had been transferred from the Bridging the Bar bank account by [a member] to their own personal account without proper authorisation.”

The email, seen by Legal Cheek, goes on to explain that the individual was in charge of this particular bank account and so could access and transfer charitable funds.

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It continues:

“We are pleased to report that upon discovery, we were able to take steps to ensure that those funds were promptly returned in full to the charity within eight working days.”

The member in question was “permanently removed from office” last month, according to the email.

Bridging the Bar was founded in February last year by “star at the bar” Mass Ndow-Njie to inspire students from “non-traditional backgrounds” to join the profession. The registered charity partners with a number of top chambers to provide bar hopefuls with mentorship and mini-pupillages.

A spokesperson for the charity told Legal Cheek that it now requires multiple members to authorise financial transactions, “to ensure that no individual has access to or control of charitable funds”. It has also reported the incident to the relevant authorities, including the Charity Commission.

The charity declined to comment on the amount that was transferred nor did it give reasons why the money was moved. It also did not name the individual concerned.

“We were very keen to be transparent and inform our supporters and partners about the situation,” the spokesperson continued. “We have been extremely grateful for all the messages of support and encouragement that we have already received from them and look forward to continuing to work with the profession and to build on the incredible successes of our first year as a charity.”

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11 Comments

Red

This wouldn’t have happened in the first place under a Corbyn government.

(2)(13)

Blue

No, because nobody would have any money to transfer.

(29)(6)

Paul

I can’t help but agree. The toxic greed culture that cultivates whilst we are under Tory rule is pretty disgusting. Nothing is sacred.

(4)(18)

Anonymous

Of course legal charities should be transparent about who holds the funds.

I should hope they are transparent too about where EXACTLY their money goes and whether they treat those working for them with the same respect and care they demand from other institutions.

You are not obliged to donate anything to any organisation that you feel isn’t fully aligned with your values.

You are not a ‘bad’ person if you would rather keep the money you work hard for than send it somewhere where you are uncertain of how it could be spent.

(23)(2)

.

your moderation of the comments section is blatantly biased and sad. It will cause the collapse of this rag

(10)(7)

NotaCorbynista

Poor response by BtB. There needs to be transparency.

When did the issue first come to light? How much was taken? How long was it missing for? How was the infringement discovered? Has the individual been reported to the police? If not, why not? We cannot have a culture where current members of the BtB committee are seen to cover former members’ backs. What was the process at the time of the breach in respect of the removing of funds? How has this changed?

Sadly, BtB shouldn’t be surprised if donors and interested parties walk away given their lack of candour concerning this issue.

(20)(2)

Preach

A lot of barristers publicly align themselves with charities to virtue signal.

Unlike doctors, aid workers or translators, they don’t need to physically do anything to get kudos beyond click on a ‘donate’ button or retweet something.

It’s an easy way to whitewash the poor public reputation of lawyers as manipulative fat cats.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

Was this issue reported to the relevant legal regulator who has oversight of party concerned? The story does not indicate whether it was.

(8)(2)

Barry

Probably not, can’t hold a SJW charity to the same standards we would anyone else now can we.

(10)(3)

Anonnnn

This is very true.

There is little that can be done beyond approaching the Charity Commission in cases of suspected financial mismanagement.

I don’t see how the BSB can get involved unless the individual concerned has been called to the Bar. Even then, as the matter does not involved court or the preparation of legal work, they might decline to investigate.

If the money was handled by a volunteer rather than an employee of the charity, they could easily kick the volunteer out without bothering to hold a formal disciplinary process. Charity volunteers aren’t protected under the Equality Act 2010 or under employment legislation.

(9)(2)

..

One would imagine given the close links Bridging the Bar purports to have with the BSB, Judicial Office etc, they have been informed as have any possible regulators. It’s a shame nobody from Bridging the Bar has gone on the record to give a proper explanation.

(10)(3)

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