The Charity Commission has issued an Official Warning to the Islamic Human Rights Commission Trust (“IHRC Trust”) regarding breach of trust or duty or other misconduct or mismanagement by a charity.
This follows a complaint by UK Lawyers for Israel (“UKLFI”) to the Charity Commission, pointing out the close relationship between IHRC Trust and the non-charitable entity Islamic Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”), which UKLFI considered was not in the best interests of IHRC Trust.
IHRC’s donation page only raised money for IHRC Trust, and this could be confusing. UKLFI had also included a complaint about articles and a video in support of Rev Dr Stephen Sizer published by IHRC on its website. These defended Sizer after he had been found guilty of engaging in antisemitic activity and in unbecoming conduct in provoking and offending the Jewish community. They also made accusations against Zionists and the Church of England.
Although Charity Commission guidelines say that a charity may share an identity with a non-charity if it is in the charity’s best interests, UKLFI pointed out to the Charity Commission, that it was not in the best interests of IHRC Trust to be associated with Sizer or with the views expressed in the two articles and the video.
(see previous article HERE).
The official warning was issued by the Charity Commission under Section 75A(1)(b) of the Charities Act 2011, under which the Charity Commission may issue a warning when it considers a breach of trust or duty or other misconduct or mismanagement by a charity has been committed.
The Charity Commission told UKLFI: “We have engaged with the Charity [IHRC Trust] and established that the articles and videos in question were not activity of, or funded by, the Charity. They are attributed to the linked non-charitable entity Islamic Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”). As a non-charitable entity the Commission has no jurisdiction over IHRC or the activities it undertakes.” However, the warning was issued in relation to “failure to manage the Charity’s relationship with the IHRC in the Charity’s best interests.”
IHRC’s donations page leads the viewer to a further page describing IHRC’s General Fund which says: “As Muslims, we believe that Allah has firmly commanded us to establish justice. The services that we provide through the trust has been the safety net the community has relied on since 2003.
We are the only Muslim led organisation that employs dedicated caseworkers to take on any cases of discrimination. Over the years we have been working in the background supporting the silent victims of Islamophobia and hate crime.”
It appeared that IHRC Trust’s “General Fund” covered most of the activity described on IHRC’s website. Therefore it is very difficult for donors to see whether their funds are going to IHRC or IHRC Trust.
The Charity Commission’s Official Warning to IHRC Trust covered :
“Failure to adequately manage the Charity’s relationship with the Islamic Human Rights Commission (‘IHRC’) in the Charity’s best interests, following regulatory advice provided by the Commission in September 2019 under section 15(2) of the Act, and related published guidance and
Failure to comply with legal requirements relating to the Trustees’ Annual Reports and the Charity’s Financial Statements for the financial years ending 30 June 2019, 30 June 2020 and 30 June 2021, following regulatory advice and guidance from the Commission in 2019.”
Amongst other rectifications, the Charity Commission has asked IHRC Trust to ensure that its activities and governance are adequately separated and independent from IHRC. This includes clearer external communications on how funding is solicited and applied by IHRC Trust.
A spokesperson for UKLFI commented: “Charity Commission guidance says that a charity can share an identity with the non-charity if it’s in the charity’s best interests. However, we do not believe it is in IHRC Trust’s best interests to be associated with the views of Rev Stephen Sizer.”
In March 2019 the IHRC accused the Charity Commission of Islamophobia and double standards in its dealings with what iIHRC describes as the organisation’s charitable arm.
The full warning issued by the Charity Commission is here: http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Schemes/023240.pdf
Thanks to Max Stein for his help.