Incorporated in May 1997, The Ashley Foundation, a Blackpool-based homeless charity that receives the bulk of its income from public funds off the backs of the less fortunate, was for all intents and purposes founded by Lee Dribben.
From the company’s start, Dribben has refused to come out of the shadows and to be appointed a company director, despite his obvious role.
Numerous employees of the UK Registered Charity refer to Dribben as “the boss” and even the former Chair of Trustees, Paul Bamber, was loath to act on behalf of The Ashley Foundation without first checking with “the boss” and yet Dribben who is the Company Secretary, has continued to avoid his own formal appointment as a company director.
A number of recent complaints to the Charity Commission and Companies House has resulted in a Statement being added to a recent set of Annual Accounts, identifying Dribben as the “CEO”, while continuing to avoid the obvious appointment as Director in line with his actual role.
For the avoidance of doubt “CEO” means Chief Executive Officer and an Executive Officer is a Director of the Company and yet the Charity Commission and Companies House appear unwilling or unable to enforce their own requirements; i.e. that anyone exercising control over a company or indeed as is in this case, a registered UK Charity, be formally appointed as a Director/Trustee.
According to the Companies Act 2006, as amended, anyone in a management role, with control of a Company, such as a “CEO”, is a Shadow Director, if not formally appointed. Dribben is clearly a Shadow Director. The Charity Commission does not refer to any of the Charity’s five Trustees for official public contact. On the contrary, Dribben is the named contact.
Essentially, the Trustees of The Ashley Foundation rubber-stamp the whims of Dribben and provide him with the appearance of an arms-length management structure, while leaving the Trustees on the hook for any failure or wrong-doing.
Just why Dribben continues to refuse to be appointed a Director is anyone’s guess, but it could have something to do with the compulsory strike-off of Cal-Neva Limited and Anglo-Nevada Limited, two gambling/casino related companies previously run by Dribben.