Prince Andrew Charitable Trust to be wound up after charity law breach

The Duke of York’s trust is to be wound up after a ruling by the Charity Commission that it broke the law by paying £355,000 to a former trustee.

The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust (Pact) allowed his private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, to work as a paid director for three of its subsidiary companies, in breach of rules.

Helen Earner, director of operations at the Charity Commission, said: “By allowing the payment of a trustee via its subsidiaries, the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust breached charity law, and by insufficiently managing the resulting conflict of interest from this payment the trustees did not demonstrate the behaviour expected of them.”

Ms Thirsk, 54, a former banker, stood down as private secretary after the duke’s disastrous Newsnight interview about his friendship with the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. She left her role as a trustee of the Pact in January.

The Charity Commission said in a statement: “The former trustee was an employee of the Duke of York’s household, and from April 2015 to January 2020 undertook work for the trading subsidiaries.

“The Duke of York’s household was then reimbursed for a proportion of this employee’s time by the subsidiaries after the year end. These payments totalled £355,297.”

The breach came to light after the charity reported to the commission the potential damage to its reputation from the Newsnight controversy.

The duke’s household has paid back the money to the Pact, which supported his charitable work in education, entrepreneurship, science, technology and engineering. The trust has also notified the commission of its intention to wind up, with the remaining funds being distributed to other charities.

Trustees cannot be paid to act as directors of a subsidiary company, unless there is authority from the charity’s governing document or the payments are authorised by the commission or the court, none of which were in place at the trust.