An animal charity which employs the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson is facing questions after it emerged it paid more than £150,000 to the wife of the chairman of the trustees for “interior design services”.
The latest revelation stems from the charity’s most recent annual accounts statement and dates back to before it employed Mrs Johnson.
The accounts, published towards the end of October, show the foundation took in nearly £1.5 million in donations in 2020.
Founded in 1984, the Aspinall Foundation runs breeding sanctuaries for endangered animals as well as operating the Howletts and Port Lympne animal parks in Kent, which were set up by gambling club host and animal enthusiast John Aspinall.
Mrs Johnson was appointed head of communications for the foundation earlier this year.
The subject of the Charity Commission’s inquiry also dates from before she joined the organisation.
The latest accounts, published online, detail the various expenditures made by the charity.
Among them is £150,158 paid to Mrs V Aspinall, the wife of chairman of the trustees Damian Aspinall, for “interior design services”.
The accounts add: “The fees charged were subject to a rigorous benchmarking exercise to ensure that the foundation received value for money.”
The foundation has been approached for comment.
Earlier this year, responding to the announcement of the Charity Commission’s investigation, a spokesperson for the charity said: “The Aspinall Foundation remains firmly committed to its ethical and legal duties as a charitable body.
“Our trustees will continue to work openly and transparently with the Charity Commission to ensure best practice governance and compliance.”