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Charity Commission launches inquiry into the National Equine Training Trust in Sevenoaks

An inquiry has been launched into a horse charity which had previously been thought to have closed down.

The Charity Commission has begun the investigation into the National Equine Training Trust (NETT) after discovering that it still owns a property in Sevenoaks, which a neighbour claims to have been using for the last 10 years.

A Kent horse charity is being investigated by the Charity Commission. Picture: Barry Duffield
A Kent horse charity is being investigated by the Charity Commission. Picture: Barry Duffield

A possession claim has been made by the neighbour to a court, however as the charity still owns the Gwendoline Walker Donkey Centre in Windmill Hill, Platt, the charities regulator has been named as a respondent to the claim.

The charity was presumed to be inactive and removed from the Register of Charities in 2013 because trustees had not filed accounts for a number of years.

As it is unincorporated, the NETT cannot hold land in its own name, but land can be vested in the names of trustees. Land Registry documents have revealed that the facility at the centre of the case is currently vested in the names of two former trustees who have since died.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "Nobody has been representing the interests of the charity in the adverse possession proceedings, and the commission is concerned by this significant risk to charity property."

The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into the charity on April 2.

A donkey centre is at the heart of an inquiry into a Kent charity. Picture: Gary Browne
A donkey centre is at the heart of an inquiry into a Kent charity. Picture: Gary Browne

Its investigation will seek to establish if the charity has continued to operate since it was removed from the Register of Charities in 2013, if it still has trustees and, if so, are they able to protect the donkey centre.

They will also look to decide if there is a need for the commission to protect the charity’s assets and, if there are no trustees, to place the charity onto a proper footing.

The Charity Commission is attempting to contact other former trustees but has not yet been successful. It encourages anyone with information to come forward.

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