• Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust chair Hugh Morgan-Williams steps down with immediate effect
  • Mr Morgan-Williams is involved in an investigation by the Charity Commission into the Cowesby Trust
  • The regulator is investigating whether the charity paid “large sums” to an unconnected company and its trustee, which at the time was Mr Morgan-Williams

A foundation trust chair has resigned with immediate effect following allegations his charity was paying him large amounts of money.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear FT confirmed Hugh Morgan-Williams stepped down on Monday, after nearly four years with the trust, to “pursue other interests”.

Mr Morgan-Williams temporarily stood down last year after the Charity Commission launched a statutory investigation into the Cowesby Trust – a charity he was allegedly sole trustee of at the time.

The regulator said in October, analysis of the Cowesby Trust’s accounts identified a number of “serious regulatory concerns” about its financial and operational management.

It said “large sums” of money had been paid from the charity to an unconnected company and to the charity’s trustee.

It added: “The commission has also established that there is a disparity between the level of funds that have flowed through the charity’s bank account and those disclosed in its annual returns.

“The charity is also operating in breach of it governing documents, which state there should be at least three trustees, whereas there is currently only one trustee listed on the register of charities.

“This gives rise to serious concerns about the legitimacy of the trustee decision making and whether charitable property has misapplied for non-charitable purposes.”

The inquiry is ongoing and is examining:

  • the financial controls, management and application of charitable funds, property and assets belonging to the charity;
  • the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees;
  • whether there was any misconduct or mismanagement by the trustees; and
  • whether the charity’s objectives are being met and if it is operating for the public benefit.

The Cowesby Trust is based in north Yorkshire and provides accommodation and grants to residents living in the parish of Cowesby. It now has three listed trustees including Mr Morgan-Williams.

When the Charity Commission launched the investigation, Mr Morgan-Williams said he “strong refuted” the allegations.

Mr Morgan-Williams said this week he was sorry to leave the trust, but did not mention the ongoing Charity Commission investigation.

He added: “I am sorry to be leaving the trust, but am confident that it will continue to grow from strength to strength. It has been a privilege to have been able to help develop local mental health and disability services and to speak up for those who use our services on a national stage.”

The trust, which was rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission last year, has begun the process of appointing a new chair, with non-executive director Alexis Cleveland acting as an interim.

Trust chief executive John Lawlor thanked Mr Morgan-Williams for his work at the trust.

He said: “In particular his leadership in strengthening the Board of Directors and helping us achieve a rating of outstanding from the CQC, one of only two mental health trusts in the country to reach this standard.

“I have enjoyed working with Hugh and would like to thank him for his personal support to me. I would like to wish him well for the future.”