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Protection of Charities Bill in the Queen’s Speech

Protection of Charities Bill in the Queen’s Speech

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday June 10 2014

BBC NewsThe Daily Telegraph and The Independent report on the Queen’s speech delivered earlier this week with a notable mention in the Daily Telegraph of a Bill on the Protection of Charities and a proposal for new terrorism offences in the Serious Crime Bill.

According to the Queen’s Speech briefing notes, the Draft Protection of Charities Bill will aim to equip the Charity Commission with the ability to take “robust action against individuals and charities in cases of abuse” and against “people who present a known risk”.

The government plans to legislate the proposal following the consultation launched last December on widening the powers of the Charity Commission. While no analysis was presented with the report by the Tackling Extremism Taskforce, the report did list charities as an area for statutory intervention. Despite the lack of evidence to substantiate claims of charity abuse, the report raised concerns about the targeting of charities by extremist groups allegedly seeking to abuse the charitable status of certain Muslim organisations.

In the wake of the speech, the Charity Commission has announced the names of 13 charities undergoing statutory inquiries. The Commission previously announced inquiries launched against a number of Muslim charities including, Al Fatiha Global, Children in Deen and the Islamic Education and Research Academy.

Of the 13 charities, presently announced 5 are Muslim charities, including Muslim Aid. The other charities are Bangladeshi Parents and Carers Association, Islamic Waqf Foundation, Quba Education and Cultural Association and Quba Islamic Centre in Leicester.

Civil Society Media notes the investigation into Muslim Aid followed its own report over the charity’s “non-compliance with some operational aspects in two field offices”.

A charity spokesperson stated that “The inquiry was launched as a result of Muslim Aid’s own notification to the Charity Commission of non-compliance with some operational aspects in two field offices.

“Muslim Aid’s own investigations have concluded and remedial actions have been taken resulting in minimising potential risks to the charity’s operations.”

The charity watchdog emphasised that the decision to publish the names of charities under inquiry was due to a change in its policies and is based on “the public interest to do so, unless there are special circumstances”.

The Commission is also expecting to launch a new online charity search tool this summer which will flag charities that it has publicly announced it is investigating.

The number of Muslim charities investigated by the Charities Commission raise questions about the work of the Faith and Social Cohesion Unit which received public funds for purposes of supporting Muslim charities to both register for charitable status and maintain compliance with the regulator’s code of practice. Further questions will no doubt arise over the choice of Charity Commission chair, William Shawcross. Shawcross previously held a position with the notoriously neo-con think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, and has been a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq. Factors that loom large in the background when one considers the allegations levelled at Muslim Aid in the past, of its supporting ‘terror’ groups and the Commission’s investigation of the allegations and its vindication of the Muslim charity.

According to the Queen’s Speech briefing notes, the government is further expected to present the Serious Crime Bill which would “introduce new powers to reduce the potential threat posed by UK citizens and residents returning home after taking part in the Syria conflict.”

The Bill proposes prosecution in British courts of those individuals suspected of committing an offence overseas under sections 5 and 6 of the Terrorism Act 2006 for acts preparatory to terrorism and training for terrorism.


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