I watched the BBC documentary which followed Camilla Batman’sdoodah through the collapse of the charity that she founded and “ran” for nearly twenty years.
That prompted me to watch her appearance alongside Botney of the Beeb before The House Of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee – a singularly ill-natured event from which she emerged looking like a teenager who has been caught running up a massive bill on Netflix.
The Committee, quite correctly, turned most of its firepower on Botney. The collapse, although sparked by allegations of sexual abuse, really happened because the charity ran out of money as it had nothing approaching proper reserves – a responsibility that the charity rules places on the trustees. This was a £23 million a year organisation employing 650 staff, and they were existing from day to day even before the final allegations that brought it all tumbling down.
I started watching the documentary feeling quite well disposed to Camilla. I’ve always thought she was a bit odd, but there’s nothing wrong with that. But, in common with the film maker, I started to lose sympathy as some of the more, shall we say, eccentric things that Kids Company were doing began to come to light. You can watch the film yourself, but there’s something distinctly odd about a charity for Kids footing all the living expenses for a 34 Jamaican failed asylum seeker. Saying that she was “special” doesn’t really mean much, and I suspect that there is more to this than we have been told.
Obviously, there were mistakes in the running of Kids Company, but to listen to Camilla it’s clear that she is unable to even contemplate the possibility of some of those errors being hers. Every time she was challenged about something she became aggressively defensive, displaying a rather unpleasant mixture alternating between petulance and pomposity. She had been at the helm for such a long time that she now believes in her own infallibility. Too late were Botney and the Board taking steps to get her to stand down.
Nobody could dispute that Kids Company did some admirable things, but there were problems and until such time as Camilla admits her own part in its downfall the poor woman will be unable to move on.