Watchdog 'assessing' claims against palace race row accuser's charity

Watchdog is ‘assessing’ claims against the palace race row accuser’s charity Sistah Space after string of allegations about its finances were posted online

  • Charity’s founder was asked where she was ‘really from’ on a visit to the palace
  • A series of anonymous allegations were made about the charity and its finances
  • The Commission has reportedly not contacted Sistah Space at this stage
  • The charity cited staff issues for delays in its most recent financial report 

The charity at the heart of a Buckingham Palace race row is being looked at by the Charity Commission after a series of allegations about its finances and organisation were made online.

The Charity Commission is reportedly ‘assessing material’ related to abuse and domestic violence charity Sistah Space, which offers support to victims of abuse and violence within the African and Caribbean communities.

The body has been asked to see if grants given to the charity ‘have been used as intended’, the Telegraph reports.

It comes after the charity’s founder was repeatedly asked where she was ‘really from’ on a visit to Buckingham Palace by former lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey, 83. Lady Hussey has since resigned from royal duties.

Sistah Space founder Ngozi Fulani has suffered ‘horrific abuse’ online which has forced the charity to temporarily cease operations

The charity, which has seen anonymous allegations over its finances and organisation, released a statement on its Instagram account about the abuse

Sistah Space was ‘forced to temporarily cease’ many of its operations after Ngozi Fulani spoke out about her treatment by Lady Susan Hussey. 

Ms Fulani said she suffered ‘horrific abuse’ on social media after the late Queen’s lady-in-waiting repeatedly challenged her when she said she was British.

In a statement on Instagram on Friday night, Sistah Space said: ‘Unfortunately recent events meant that we were forced to temporarily cease many of our operations to ensure the safety of our service users and our team.

‘We are overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement and look forward to fully reinstating our services as soon as safely possible.’

But the charity continues to make headlines this week after an anonymous social media user posted a series of allegations over its organisation and finances, thought to be the basis for the Charity Commission’s involvement.

The watchdog has not announced an official investigation or inquiry into Sistah Space. 

The charity, which operates throughout London, registered total income of £363,506 for the financial year ending March 2021, including two government contracts worth £52,346.

This compares to just more than £50,000 in 2019. The charity, which is saving money to purchase a property as a refuge for victims of domestic violence and abuse, has also received donations from the Department for Culture, Media, Digital and Sport, and £60,000 from Comic Relief.

According to the Charity Commission’s website, the year’s financial report was received almost 70 days late.

Lady Susan, 83, resigned from the royal household and apologised for her questioning of Ms Fulani 

Ms Fulani (left) at Buckingham Palace for the event attended by the Queen Consort (right)

The report describes the charity’s struggle to record accounts on time due to the sudden departure of its accounts officer, which caused ‘a massive disruption in the organisation’s ability to record accounts in a timely manner.’

It also highlighted problems faced by charities worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It also cited ‘personal issues’ among staff members which led to long delays, but added: ‘We have now engaged an independent accounting firm and are confident that any issues are a thing of the past.’ 

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: ‘We are assessing material posted on social media about the charity Sistah Space to determine whether it raises matters that fall within the Charity Commission’s remit.’

What is Sistah Space? 

Sistah Space is a not-for-profit charity which supports women and girls of African heritage who are victims of domestic violence.

The charity was founded in 2015  in direct response to the tragic murder of Valerie Forde and her 22-month-old daughter by Valerie’s ex-partner.

In a statement last month, Sistah Space said: ‘It’s been an extremely challenging but rewarding journey of love and care.

‘Starting as a small idea in 2015 and continuing seven years later with the advocacy, training and support we offer today.’

A Sistah Space spokesperson told the Telegraph: ‘Sistah Space has not been approached by the Charity Commission. 

‘What we do know is they are assessing information posted on social media, part of their normal procedure, but haven’t opened an official investigation, however should they contact us we will of course cooperate fully.’

Ms Fulani previously took to social media to describe her ‘shock’ at the treatment she received while at Buckingham Palace. 

Lady Susan, who had served the late Queen for six decades, repeatedly challenged Ms Fulani when she said she was British at the Queen Consort’s reception highlighting violence against women and girls.

The 83-year-old stepped down from her honorary role ‘with immediate effect’ amid a furious outcry.

Ms Fulani told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the royal had also touched her hair during the encounter.

‘I was stood next to two other women – black women – and she (Lady Susan) just made a beeline for me and she took my locks and moved it out of the way so that she could see my name badge,’ the Sistah Space founder said.

‘That’s a no-no. I wouldn’t put my hands in someone’s hair and culturally it’s not appropriate.’

The charity is run by three trustees and nine further volunteers. It primarily advocates for better support for ‘women and girls of African and Caribbean heritage affected by abuse’ and also runs a charity shop to help abuse survivors fund necessary items. 

Sistah Space has been contacted for comment. 

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