We will act if required (David Robb)

As your readers will be aware, the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) wrote last week to the trustees of the Shetland Charitable Trust asking them to take urgent action to address issues with the trust’s governance.

As is our policy, we did not release that letter publicly, but in view of some of the recent media coverage there has been, and the level of public interest in this matter, I am taking the unusual step of writing directly to you in the interests of clarity for your readers. I would like to place on record OSCR’s position, particularly in relation to the proposed referendum on the trust’s future governance.

OSCR first became involved with SCT following complaints from members of the public in Shetland. We have engaged actively, openly and patiently with the charity over the last three years to address issues highlighted by these complaints and, as part of this process, we have given clear, consistent advice to the trustees that changes need to be made to the trust’s constitution and governance to ensure that this is fit for purpose. This has also been the advice the trustees have had from their own legal advisers. We have an open view as to what form the new arrangements might take. Charities come in all shapes and sizes and the exact form of the governance structure remains a matter for the charity trustees, as long as these arrangements are compatible with the requirements of charity law, especially with regard to independence, which is a primary concern for us a regulator. Our aim here is to ensure that the charity’s assets continue to be managed in the interests of the local community.

I must also stress that we have no objection to charities consulting the people they benefit or any other interested parties on constitutional matters – indeed we have on occasions advised charities to do exactly this. We were pleased to see SCT’s trustees consult earlier this year on their revised governance proposals.

What is not compatible with their duties as charity trustees however, is the spending of charitable assets asking the people of Shetland to vote on options which the trustees themselves know to be unacceptable in terms of charity law.

This is why OSCR wrote to the trustees requiring them to take no further action on the referendum as proposed and to give us a clear timetable for action on SCT’s constitution. We hope that it will be possible to continue to engage constructively with the trustees, but we have been obliged to make them aware of the legal enforcement action we will take if they do not give us the undertakings we have asked for.

David Robb
Chief executive,
Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
9 Riverside Drive,


Add Your Comment
  • Dave Heaney

    • December 9th, 2011 16:13

    Dear Mr Robb

    As you are the new chief excutive of the OSCR, it’s welcome from me. Now by the wording of your letter you are a man who will no accept the status quo. For to long now the SIC have had a strangle hold on the SCT

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 9th, 2011 18:54

    Mr Robb

    Some of the point’s listed by the Shetland Times reader’s are as follows.

    1. The trust should not be under the governance of paid politically active councillors.

    2. This fund should be governed by Independent people who have expertise in some of
    the following, dealling’s with Oil and Gas multinationals, Financial experts, and other
    proven buisness people along with members of the community.

    3. Totally independent from the Shetland Island Council.

    4. All dealings to be carried out in an open and transparent manner, accounts published
    for all to see with copies printed in the Times, copies in hardback placed into the library.
    And published online also a online Charity Trust website set up to view all buisness
    proposals and inform the community of up and comming meetings along with the Agenda to
    be dicussed.

    5. All trustees should have no political agenda or ties to any political parties, the trustees will have to put themselfs forward for election and voted on by the community.

    This council have got away with using funds from this charity to carry out projects which should have been financed by the council in the first place. To say this could ammount to fraud is perhaps a bit much but???

    For years and years they have been secretive, operating behind a wall of silence which the general public find out about often when its to late or never.

    This so called Charity must be the richest in Scotland if not the whole of the country, I have searched the accounts of other charities, these funds put worldwide Charities in the shade.

    Yet I have heard of hardships in other areas of Scottish economy such as the Shetland Wool industry which is in need of assistance from a fund like this.

    The fishing industry could use funds to help skippers with repairs to there boats.

    Workshops set up to teach new skills to apprentice’s and adults who would be employed on the oil and gas terminals when trained and given the chance to earn a good living in their own country.

    All these things and more could be achieved for the benefit of all from this fund, but I have heard of no such thing taken place, certain contractors have become rich from the work given to them by a council using the Trusts fund which were set up for all the people not just local buisness types.

  • Dave Heaney

    • December 14th, 2011 20:46


    Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world – it is super rich in ENERGY
    Our clean air, remote and open landscapes diversity of wildlife and commitment to long standing ideals such as helping each other in life put us above many other nations who are self seeking, we should lead by example.

    The rich’es off our shores are for eveyone, the old, poor, unemployed, disabled, use it to re-train adults for oil terminal jobs, give grants to various companies such as Shetland wool
    producer’s, it could have been used for no/low interest loan’s to the population but none of these have been done.

    We are one of Europe’s leading energy providers. We remain a leading Oil nd Gas producer
    and will be for decades to come, In addition we are a world centre of excellence in offshore
    techniques and technology we have scientists who have developed cutting edge technologies.

    Instead of this money being under political control as it is now ie SIC. It should be managed by trustee’s with no political ties and used for the long term benefit of the Scottish people.

  • ian tinkler

    • December 15th, 2011 12:17

    About time to change this record Dave. Why just Scotland?


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