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Captain Tom Foundation set to close as daughter's lawyer admits it's 'unlikely to continue'
17 October 2023, 15:56 | Updated: 17 October 2023, 18:27
The Captain Tom Foundation is set to close as a lawyer admitted it was "unlikely" to continue after a Charity Commission probe.
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The revelation came at a hearing over an unauthorised spa pool built at the home of the beloved veteran's daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore.
She and her husband Colin applied in 2021 for permission to build a structure in the grounds of their Bedfordshire home.
The L-shaped building was approved but they built a larger C-shaped building containing a spa pool - and a demolition order was issued. Ingram-Moore is appealing that.
During the planning hearing on Tuesday, barrister Scott Stemp, for the appellants, said: "It's not news to anybody that the (Captain Tom) foundation, it seems, is to be closed down following an investigation by the Charity Commission."
He added that the foundation was "unlikely to exist" in the future.
The Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry into the Captain Tom Foundation last year over decisions that "may have generated a significant profit" for a company run by the couple.
It said Club Nook Ltd, a separate firm, had been given the "opportunity to trademark variations of the name 'Captain Tom' without objection from the charity, which raised money from branded products including gin and T-shirts.
The commission previously turned down an application for Ingram-Moore to become the foundation's chief executive on £100,000-a-year – a salary similar to that run by the heads of major charities.
She was later allowed to take the post on an interim basis on the equivalent of £85,000-a-year.
This week, she admitted keeping £800,000 from her father's books, with the money going to Club Nook, but insisted she and her husband never took "a penny" directly from the Captain Tom Foundation for personal gain.
Ingram-Moore told TalkTV: "These were father's books, and it was honestly such a joy for him to write them, but they were his books.
"He had an agent and they worked on that deal, and his wishes were that that money would sit in Club Nook," she said, adding they were "specifically" intended to be held on to by her.
She also said she regrets changing the spa plans at her home but still hopes the building can stay, and now claim they hope it will be used by older people.
At a planning hearing today, chartered surveyor James Paynter said the scheme had "evolved" to include the spa pool.
"It was felt that a larger building could provide this extra space for this extra facility going forward,” he said.
“The spa pool has the opportunity to offer rehabilitation sessions for elderly people in the area.
"They want to offer one-to-one sessions, only on a once or twice per week basis.
"They felt this extra limb to create a C-shape was needed to create this facility."
Richard Proctor, planning enforcement team leader for Central Bedfordshire Council, said: "Yes, the tennis court wasn't ideal but it was significantly less harmful than the building.
"The original building that was approved was because of public good outweighing harm."
He added: "There hasn't been any information provided to the council about the use of the spa."
The inspector noted that the built structure includes a spa pool and "the council say if that balancing exercise was carried out again the balance would be different".
A document supporting the initial planning application for an L-shaped building said it was to be used partly "in connection with the Captain Tom Foundation and its charitable objectives".
Around half a dozen neighbours attended the meeting, with one arguing that the building is "49% bigger than what was consented" and is close to his property, adding: "It's very brutal."
In a written appeal statement, Mr Ingram-Moore said the heights of the approved and built buildings "are the same".
The planning inspector indicated she would make a site visit, accompanied by representatives for the appellants and for the council.
A written decision is to be published at a later date, weeks after the one-day hearing.
Captain Sir Tom’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband, Colin, were granted permission to build the Captain Tom Foundation Building on the grounds of their Bedfordshire home in 2021.
However, a retrospective application for a larger building with revisions, including a spa pool, was rejected by the council in November 2022.
Central Bedfordshire Council notified the family to demolish the "now-unauthorised building".
It said its reports "detail harm caused to the setting of the listed building and, in particular, the significant difference between the two schemes that arises from the lack of sufficient public benefit that has been proposed in respect of the unauthorised building".
It also stated that the demolition requirement is not "excessive" and the "size and scale of the unauthorised building" has an adverse impact on the Ingram-Moores' neighbours.
The family argued that the revised building was "no more overbearing" than the one that was originally granted permission in 2021.
Sir Tom raised £38.9 million for the NHS at the height of the first national Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020 by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. He died in February 2021.