Controversial charity at the heart of the Millwall stadium campaign generates new questions

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new financial questions emerge

– Controversial charity at the heart of the Millwall stadium campaign generates new questions

– Mystery £48,000 donation in 2012 reclassified as a loan a year later

– Huge debts racked up repayable to ‘Renewal’

– Further questions for beleaguered Mayor

Following last Wednesday’s dramatic climbdown by Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock over the Millwall FC Compulsory Purchase Orders, more question marks have emerged over the finances of a centrepiece charity upon which he serves.

The Surrey Canal Sports Foundation, chaired by Steve Norris and whose board contains both Bullock and Southwark Council leader Peter John, sits at the heart of the now halted New Bermondsey scheme.

The announcement that the CPO process has been stopped in the face of overwhelming fan pressure, leaves open the possibility for a newly elected council to revive the plans after elections in 2018.

Publicly available accounts lodged at Companies House however, raise serious questions over financial management of the charity.

Already mired in allegations of misrepresentation of £2m of alleged Sport England funding that was not actually committed, the SCSF is currently facing a Charity Commission review.

Only two items of income have ever been recorded by the charity: a £48,269 donation in 2012 and another of £5,000 in 2013.

Who made the £48,269 donation in 2012 is not clear. However bizarrely it was reclassified as a repayable loan in the 2013 accounts.

Given that only two income transactions have ever been received during the existence of the charity, questions as to how a loan can have been been mistaken for the distinctly different concept of a donation, will be central to the Charity Commission’s inquiries.

During the five years of its existence, SCSF has only generated £53,000 income, despite being committed to very high rents of £156,000 per year for its premises in Stockholm Road SE16.

In 2012 the charity made a large donation proportionate to its income of £10,000 to the Team GB Olympic squad.

The 2016 accounts show the SCSF as being over £805,000 in debt, all of which is repayable to Renewal upon receipt of future public funding. This is listed in the accounts as being expected to come from the London Boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham and the Greater London Authority.

The accounts are signed off by the former London Mayoral candidate Steven Norris and the daughter of the owner of Renewal, Jordana Malik. All directors including Bullock and Malik representing the proposed future funding authorities will retain a collective responsibility of due care and diligence.

The Charity Commission inquiries will examine questions of probity, failure to meet statutory requirements and poor accounting.

Mayor Bullock has refused to stand down in the face of calls to do so given his close association with the Renewal scheme.