The investigation found that the charity’s website had hosted historic material from 2004 that legitimised the killing of gay people and encouraged the killing of Muslims in certain circumstances. It concluded that the material encouraged violence and denigrated particular faiths and was inappropriate for the charity to host in its name on its website.
The commission established that none of the charity’s current trustees were in post when the articles of concern were first uploaded, and the current trustees acted quickly to take the website offline when the material in question came to their attention and condemned the material.
Nonetheless, as part of its inquiry, the regulator concluded that more should have been done by the current trustees to monitor the charity’s website to ensure its content was appropriate and found that the current trustees (despite their action in removing the charity’s website) were too slow in implementing their new policies designed to ensure extremism and hate material is not promoted.
The inquiry also examined the charity’s over all governance and compliance with previous guidance given to it. The inquiry concluded that the current trustees were continuing to comply with an action plan the regulator issued as part of an earlier engagement with the charity in 2013.
Furthermore, the inquiry concluded that the current trustees have put in place a greatly improved process for risk assessing speakers, that complies with the key requirements of the commission’s published guidance in relation to due diligence, but the current trustees need to take steps to better evidence their own decision making, as required under the governing document and policy.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement, at the Charity Commission said:
Trustees carry ultimate responsibility for the operation and activities of charity, including for the content of their charity’s website and social media. Trustees are responsible for putting in place appropriate systems of control, to ensure that material posted on their charity’s website is suitable and appropriate for a charity.
If trustees have concerns about internet-based content which may be illegal, and/or inappropriate for charities to support or charity staff or volunteers raise concerns, the trustees must act responsibly to look into this and where necessary take action to address the concerns.
Trustees are responsible for ensuring steps are taken to remove clearly inappropriate content posted on their website straight away. In cases of illegality such as hate crime or terrorist related material, they must report the matter to the police.
Trustees should also take steps to find out how the content was linked with the charity, review their existing controls and take steps to prevent it happening again.
The charity’s aims include increasing awareness of the tenets of the Islamic faith among Muslims and non-Muslims through educational media and seminars. The inquiry opened in August 2014 and closed on 20 July 2015 with the publication of this report. You can read the full report on GOV.UK.
Notes to Editors
The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:
- charities know what they have to do
- the public know what charities do
- charities are held to account
- Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the Charity Commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the Commission access to a range of investigative, protective and remedial legal powers.
- Online content which may be of a violent extremist or terrorist nature can be reported direct to a specialist police unit through an on-line reporting tool on gov.uk.