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Charity regulator explains intervention

THE OFFICE of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has clarified why it stopped Shetland Charitable Trust from holding a meeting to discuss further funding for the controversial Viking Energy wind farm.

In a statement issued on Monday, OSCR said it was unclear how the special meeting, which would have taken place this morning, was in the best interest of the £200 million charity.

Chief executive David Robb said that regulator had received no explanations as to the urgency of the meeting.

The meeting would have taken place three days prior to the council election. Of the seven councillor/trustees – Gussie Angus, Jim Budge, Addie Doull, Betty Fullerton, Robert Henderson, Andrew Hughson and Josie Simpson – only one – Robert Henderson – seeks re-election on Thursday.

OSCR had issued a ‘direction’ on Friday in which they told Shetland Charitable Trust that they “must not make a binding decision in relation to any investment in the Viking Energy project, beyond the £3.42 million previously invested, before 5th May 2012”.

OSCR’s statement said: “’I can confirm that, following engagement with the Shetland Charitable Trust’s chair and senior management, we issued a direction to the trust prohibiting any binding decision on further investment in Viking Energy before 5 May.

“Whether or not to invest further in Viking Energy remains a decision for the charity’s trustees. 

“However, we have been provided with no information to suggest that this decision has to be made before the constitution of the new board, which is likely to be within a matter of days. 

“It is also unclear how making a decision at this point is in the best interests of the charity. 

“Given our ongoing inquiries into the governance of the charity, we considered it appropriate to take precautionary action and stop this decision while we make further inquiries.”

Mr Robb also said that these latest events highlighted the urgency for trust reform.

Under current proposals, which have been out for consultation, the majority of councillors will be removed from the trust’s board by the end of the year.

Should OSCR approve the proposal, a reformed trust will be constituted of seven councillors and eight appointed trustees.

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