Extremists to be Wiped from Charity Boards
1 October 2015 at 12:09 pm
The UK Charity Commission will have the ability to purge “extremist” trustees from charities in England and Wales, according to reports.
According to The Telegraph newspaper, a leaked draft of the Home Office’s new counter-extremism strategy revealed that new legal powers for the Charity Commission to sack trustees will be used far more widely than expected.
The Telegraph has reported that the counter-extremism strategy, due to be published by November, stated that “once the legislation is enacted, the Charity Commission will take action against all trustees who meet the definition of extremism set out in this document”.
The document defines extremism as “the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.
It is understood that among those likely to be affected are several mosques, most of which operate as charities, including the hardline East London Mosque.
The UK Government has previously taken a tough approach to charities accused of funding terrorism.
Last year Prime Minister David Cameron allocated £8 million (AUD14.6 million) funding to boost the Charity Commission’s ability to tackle abuse, including the use of funds for extremist and terrorist activity.
Cameron said at the time that the Charity Commission would receive the funding over three years to help re-focus its regulatory activity on proactive monitoring and enforcement in the highest risk areas like abuse of charities for terrorist and other criminal purposes, such as tax avoidance and fraud.
“The new funding will be announced as new measures to protect the charity sector from abuse are published in the draft Protection of Charities Bill, following a public consultation last year,” Cameron said.
“The Charity Commission requested strengthened powers as most of its current powers – such as the ability to freeze charity bank accounts, direct the charity to take a specific course of action, suspend or remove the charity’s trustees, or appoint an interim manager to run the charity – are over 20 years old.”
In June this year, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon used a Senate Inquiry hearing to call for Australia’s charity regulation to receive extra funding in order to help it tackle terrorism.
Xenophon quizzed Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who was also being questioned at the hearing, about why the Government would not commit more funding to the ACNC if it meant that the organisation could help in the fight against terrorism.
“Minister, if in the UK they have the IT resources to see whether money is being used for illegal purposes and being funnelled through charities in terms of terrorist activities, would you want the ACNC to have at least the same level of resources as their UK counterparts so that we can unearth any activity that could be terrorist related?” Xenophon said.
“The Government’s priority is keeping Australians safe and this is one way of keeping Australia safe.”