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Captain Tom-branded rose pulled from sale after watchdog inquiry into his charity

Exclusive: Retailer withdrew the rose ‘as soon as we were made aware of the Charity Commission investigation’

Simon Murphy
Friday 22 July 2022 19:56 BST
Captain Tom honoured with bronze sculpture in Yorkshire

A Captain Sir Tom Moore-branded rose sold to raise money for a foundation set up in his name has been pulled from sale in the wake of a watchdog inquiry being launched into the charity, it can be revealed.

The “Captain Tom Rose” was withdrawn by World of Roses after the Charity Commission announced it had started a statutory inquiry into the Captain Tom Foundation.

The retailer, which said it was “proud” when it introduced the rose plant last year, confirmed to The Independent that it was removed from sale “as soon as we were made aware of the Charity Commission investigation”.

It is a fresh blow for the Captain Tom Foundation after the charity watchdog launched its inquiry in June, warning that the firm Club Nook Ltd – run by the late fundraiser’s daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, and her husband, Colin – “may have generated significant profit” from trademarking variations of the veteran’s name.

In March 2021, the watchdog opened a regulatory compliance case into the charity but revealed last month that it had “escalated its engagement because of newly identified concerns about arrangements between the charity and a company linked to the Ingram-Moore family, as well as ongoing concerns about the trustees’ decisionmaking and the charity’s governance”.

In January 2021, World of Roses tweeted: “We are proud to introduce The Captain Tom Rose!”

Before it was removed, on its website World of Roses had been selling a potted “Captain Tom Rose” for £22.99, with a potted and gift-wrapped version for £27.99.  The website stated: “Every rose sold donates £2.50 to The Captain Tom Foundation.”

Under the description section, the website said: “This beautiful gift rose can make a wonderful present for any occasion or even a treat for yourself, with the added pleasure of donating to an important cause. The Captain Tom Rose flowers gorgeous double blooms repeatedly throughout the summer, in a bright red. This rose can be planted in beds, borders or in a pot. A wonderful way to brighten up your garden and support The Captain Tom Foundation.” The website explained: “Our roses are supplied as Garden Rose Plants.”

The Charity Commission opened its statutory inquiry into the Captain Tom Foundation on 16 June, making it public in an announcement on 30 June.

David White, World of Roses managing director, told The Independent that “as soon as we were made aware of the Charity Commission investigation we removed the rose from sale”. It was removed on either 30 June or 1 July, he added.

There had been “no contact” with the Charity Commission, he said. He told The Independent that “nothing” had been paid to Club Nook Ltd and no direct or indirect payments had been made to Hannah Ingram-Moore or Colin Ingram-Moore, adding that “none have been requested”.

In response to a question about how much money World of Roses had donated to the Captain Tom Foundation, he said: “We have sold circa 20,000 plants as this was all we had available from our production. We have donated just over £50,000 to the foundation.”

Mr White added: “To put this into context, when we launch a new rose we would expect it to sell between 5,000 and 10,000 in the first three years, with sales slowly building.”

In recent months, the Captain Tom Foundation has been at the centre of controversy. In February, The Independent reported how it understood that part of the Charity Commission’s compliance case related to a request from the foundation to appoint Hannah Ingram-Moore as chief executive on a six-figure salary, with the watchdog blocking the appointment last summer.

In May, The Independent revealed that gin sold to raise money for the foundation was pulled from sale after an apparent breach of charity law.

The Captain Tom Foundation said: “We can confirm David White, World of Roses managing director’s account of the donation paid to the Captain Tom Foundation, and we very much thank everyone that bought a rose and World of Roses for its generosity.”

According to the Charity Commission, the inquiry opening does not prevent the charity raising funds, whether through donations or commercial agreements.

A spokesman for Hannah Ingram-Moore and Colin Ingram-Moore said the pair did not have any comment to make.

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