Charity Commission publishes report on case into The League Against Cruel Sports

(1st April 2010)

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has today published a report on its case into The League Against Cruel Sports (registered charity no.1095234).

The case was opened following concerns about a question that the charity had commissioned in a poll and the accompanying press release about it that was issued on 1 June 2009. Both the press release and the question appeared to be party political in nature.

A charity is not able to support, promote or criticise a political party. In light of the concerns raised, a case was opened to determine whether the charity was complying with the Commission’s published guidance, Speaking Out: Guidance on Campaigning and Political Activity by Charities (CC9).

The Commission found that the press release and a question in the poll that was asked on behalf of the charity wereparty political in nature in that they could be seen to be critical of a national political party, contrary to charity law and the Commission’s guidance. The charity accepted that it must ensure that it does not engage in party political activity when running a campaign for or against a change in the law or government policy. The Commission provided the charity with advice and guidance regarding the legal and regulatory requirements that must be complied with by charities engaging in political activities. The charity accepted this advice and withdrew its previously published press release.

The Commission’s report on the case provides wider lessons for the sector and highlights that it is essential for charities to ensure they are, and are seen to be, independent of party politics.

Andrew Hind, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:

“Charities must guard their independence very carefully, which means not engaging in any party political activity or leaving the charity open to the perception that they may be. This report highlights the critical importance of charities following our guidance on these issues. A charity may have a view about the policies of a particular political party in the interests of its beneficiaries and the need for changes in the law. It can make voters aware of the policies of political parties about that issue and the need for change. But charities must not encourage, or discourage, support for any political party. I’d strongly recommend that all charities read our guidance on campaigning, including our specific guidance on Charities and Elections, available on our website.”

The regulatory case report is published at www.charitycommission.gov.uk

End.

For further information on this story please contact the Press Office.

PR 29/10

Notes to Editors

1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See www.charitycommission.gov.uk for further information or call our contact centre on 0845 300 0218.

2. Our mission is: to ensure charities’ legal compliance, enhance charities’ accountability, encourage charities’ effectiveness and impact and to promote the public interest in charity.

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