The child protection world was rocked this morning when news emerged that popular children’s advocate Camila Batmanghelidjh, chief executive of Kids Company, is to step down from her post.
The news followed a joint investigation by Newsnight and Buzzfeed, which found the Cabinet Office was refusing to provide the charity with any further funding unless Batmanghelidjh stepped down.
Government officials were reportedly unhappy about recent claims concerning the financial management of Kids Company, and certain alleged practices at the charity.
An article in The Spectator, published earlier this year, reported concerns about donations after one donor asked for her money back, and concerns over claims that the charity handed out packets of money to children.
Batmanghelidjh, an outspoken and charismatic figure in children’s social care, told The Guardian she believed she was “being silenced” by the government for speaking out against the child protection system.
“Some ugly games are being played. The facts are that the vulnerable children of this country remain largely unprotected. There’s no point in shooting the messenger if the message is uncomfortable,” she said.
The newspaper also reported that the charity felt its previously close relationship to the government – David Cameron has always been a vocal supporter – was damaged after its See the Child campaign criticised the UK’s child protection system.
Indeed, a source told the newspaper that Whitehall felt the campaign had not shown the government “enough respect”.
Speaking to Community Care in May 2014, Batmanghelidjh appeared to predict a fallout from the charity’s campaign, saying: “Governments put pressure on people in senior positions to shut up.
“I know they’ll try it with me, but luckily I don’t have any political aspirations. I’m prepared to have myself written off so long as this issue is addressed. I’m quite kamikaze about this because children deserve better.”
This week, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that accusations against the charity’s financial management and effectiveness were a “red herring”, and that sources were briefing the media against the charity in an attempt to discredit her.
“This is briefing to avoid the real issues, which is that we repeatedly challenged governments because they are not protecting children robustly… They are attempting to discredit me so that my message is weakened,” she told BBC Today.
She criticised politicians for failing to prioritise investment, telling The Guardian: “I don’t accept that there is not enough money to do the job… There’s enough money for high-speed rail. There is enough money for arms. There is enough money for the glory of the Olympics. But there is just not enough money for child protection and that is wrong.”