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Ruling to disqualify Croydon church pastor upheld by tribunal

Sat 12 Oct 2019
By Heather Preston

The Charity tribunal has ruled to dismiss an appeal against the disqualification of a pastor in London for the misconduct of church funds.

The Charity Commission opened an initial inquiry into Rhema Church, Croydon in February 2015 over alleged financial irregularities, stating it was unable to clarify the correct spending of approximately £280,000 charitable funds.

 

Pastor Martin Phelps was suspended by the Interim Manager in 2017 pending the investigation, before ultimately being dismissed from his employment with the Charity in November 2018 for disciplinary breaches and gross misconduct.

On 11th January 2019 an order was made by the Charity Commission to disqualify Phelps from holding a senior management or trustee position within any charity, for a period of 10 years.

The Commission and subsequently the court concluded that Mr Phelps should be disqualified on the basis that he misused the charity's credit card, used charitable funds for international trips, encouraged the breach of employment suspensions and withheld information from the court.

The decision to uphold the ruling, following an appeal by Phelps was published by the First Tier Tribunal on 7th October.

Amy Spiller, Head of Investigations Team at the Charity Commission said: "We welcome the Tribunal's decision to uphold our disqualification of Mr Phelps of Rhema Church London.

“The decision supports our conclusion that the actions of Mr Phelps, whilst in his role as Pastor at the church, amounted to misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charity, and have shown him unfit to be a charity trustee and to hold a senior position within a charity.

"Charity trustees hold important positions of trust, and should demonstrate the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Through his actions, this individual let the charity and its supporters down, and put wider public trust in charity at risk. I am pleased that we have been able to hold him to account, and protect our important charity sector from further harm."

The Commission's inquiry into Rhema Church London continues to be investigated.

 

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