The former Kids Company chief executive, Camila Batmanghelidjh, told her story in the BBC's thought-provoking programme Camila's Kids Company: the Inside Story. Documentary maker Lynn Alleway took up the charity founder's offer to film her last summer – just when a string of allegations of mismanagement were emerging. Alleway then watched as the charity collapsed and the Government stepped in, resulting in Batmanghelidjh stepping down as chief executive.
Last week, the Met closed its inquiry into sexual abuse allegations involving the organisation but it was too late – the charity was wound up last August.
Billed as the "inside story", it quickly became clear that we were unlikely to get that. Calm, collected and full of humour, Batmanghelidjh was a formidable force and a master operator. But a well-intentioned one. Her staff treated her like a divine being. Children loved her like a mother. But the Government – who had once thrown money at her – suddenly turned.
"Everyone thinks that just because I wear funny clothes and have a Miss Piggy bag that I must be… unable to run a business," she claimed.
There was definitely some truth in her inability to run a business but I don't think it was her appearance hindering her. Wage bills were extortionate, the charity's HQ was luxurious and some questionable decisions were being made about who to help and how.
As the film progressed, Alleway became increasingly frustrated by her subject, whose delivery was unnerving. She laughed off all suggestions of mismanagement and seemed to be in denial even as the charity was packed up around her.
At no point did Batmanghelidjh admit any responsibility and every time Alleway tried to confront her, she talked her way out of it. Her private swimming pool was "not luxurious" and children living in a £5,000-a-month house "deserved" a better lifestyle.
As Alleway's frustration grew, so too did mine – at her inability to get a straight answer. At her most animated she asked: "Who is to blame, Camila?" only to be told: "I think it's a collective madness that the media and politicians engaged in." For someone who clearly hates politicians, it's ironic that she would have made a great one.Reuse content