The Charity Commission, the charity regulator, has opened formal investigations, known as statutory inquiries under section 46 of the Charities Act 2011, into 2 registered charities:
Both charities are the subject of an undercover documentary to be broadcast this evening on ITV1 entitled ‘Charities behaving badly’.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said:
We are disturbed at the footage we have seen - some of which is so serious it is clearly a matter for the police. Rightly the public will be concerned about the footage and the implications for public trust and confidence in these charities, and the potential impact on the charity sector more generally. We can reassure the public that we take these issues seriously.
These kinds of incidents illustrate why it is important for the regulator to have the right tools to do the job. There are currently loopholes in the existing regulatory framework which we are seeking to close by looking for increased powers in the draft Protection of Charities Bill.
The Steadfast Trust, which also features in the programme, is not a charity and has been removed from the register of charities. This decision was made because it was not clear that the Trust’s beneficiaries, described as “members of the Anglo-Saxon community living in England”, could be identified or are a sufficient section of the public, as required in charity law. As the Trust’s purposes are not charitable for the public benefit, the Trust is not a charity.
Footage relating to the 2 registered charities raises serious regulatory concerns. These will be investigated as part of the inquiries that have been opened.
In the case of Global Aid Trust Limited, the commission already had a case open into the charity and was already examining concerns of a similar nature to those raised in the programme; the undercover footage obtained is new evidence which will be added to this. The statutory inquiry will investigate the management and oversight by the trustees of the charity’s events and the content of these.
In the case of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK), this is new information that has been brought to the commission’s attention and that has resulted in immediate regulatory action. The statutory inquiry will investigate comments made by an individual invited to speak at a charity event in the presence of the charity’s beneficiaries and the management and oversight by the trustees of such events.
The trustees of both Global Aid Trust Limited and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK) have been notified of the commission’s decision to open the inquiries and both have complied with the commission’s requests for information and documents to date. In accordance with our published policy it is our intention to publish a report at the conclusion of each inquiry.
The commission requested and is awaiting access to all of the footage obtained relating to the charities so that this can be reviewed and the regulatory concerns addressed through the investigations that have been opened.
Notes to editors
- The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales.
- Our mission is to be the independent registrar and 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 protective and remedial powers.
- The commission’s decision to announce the opening of a statutory inquiry is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities.