Mermaids: Charity Commission announces ‘statutory inquiry’ into trans children’s charity

Mermaids marches at Pride in London 2019

The Charity Commission has confirmed it has opened a statutory inquiry into trans children’s charity Mermaids after safeguarding allegations were raised.

A regulatory compliance case was opened in September of this year, which has now been formalised.

This began after several articles were published in right-wing publications, which portrayed Mermaids as posing danger to children.

The statutory inquiry will investigate whether there has been “serious systemic failing in the charity’s governance and management” within the organisation.

The Charity Commission says its investigation will establish if Mermaids’ governance is “appropriate in relation to the activities the charity carries out, which involve vulnerable children and young people, as well as their families”.

Mermaids has said it “must do better” following its own appraisal of internal culture at the charity.

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“As part of this process, we commissioned an independent external report which highlighted a number of significant challenges for us,” it says in a statement.

“We know we must do better and we are absolutely committed to doing so, and will be implementing the report’s recommendations as a priority.

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“The charity has an unwavering commitment to safeguarding which is, and always will be, our top priority.”

It says it will cooperate fully with the Charity Commission and its inquiry.

Mermaids’ former CEO, Susie Green, stepped down from her role on 25 November.

An activist raises a placard saying "protect trans kids" during a protest.
The Charity Commission confirmed in a statement that there is no investigation into Mermaids at this time. (Getty/Anatoliy Cherkasov)

The inquiry will focus on three areas of Mermaids, its work and how the charity is run.

This includes investigating potential misconduct or mismanagement, whether the trustees have fulfilled their duties under charity law and into the administration, governance and management of the charity.

The inquiry opened on 28 November and is currently ongoing. A report will be published when it has concluded.

Mermaids came under increased scrutiny after its challenge to the charitable status of anti-trans lobby group LGB Alliance went to court.

Mermaids has argued in its case that LGB Alliance does not comply with two key criteria for charitable status under the Charities Act 2011 – that an organisation’s objectives “give rise to tangible, legally recognised benefits that outweigh any associated harms”, and that they “benefit the public or a sufficient section of the public”.

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Many LGBTQ+ people were horrified when, in the hours following the November shooting in Colorado Springs Club Q – where a trans woman was among the victims – LGB Alliance responded to the tragedy saying it stood in solidarity “with LGB people”.

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