Charity Commission publishes Viva Palestina Inquiry report

(Immediate Release 4 March 2010)

 

 

 

 

The Charity Commission has today published a report on its statutory inquiry* into the charity Viva Palestina (registered charity no. 1129092).  

The Commission opened an investigation in early March 2009 following various public fundraising events regarding the Lifeline for Gaza appeal, also known as Viva Palestina. The charity’s initial activity was to launch an appeal for, and to facilitate, a convoy of vehicles carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in February 2009. The charity’s website claimed that the appeal had raised £1 million.

The Commission appreciated that the charity was established and operating quickly, in response to an immediate need in Gaza. However the Commission had a number of regulatory concerns. Following initial enquiries, including a review of the charity’s constitution and other publically available literature, the Commission’s view was that it was a charity although not registered with the Commission. The Commission also had concerns over the financial governance arrangements relating to the control and application of the charity’s funds.

A statutory inquiry was opened into the charity on 23 March 2009 and closed on 4 March 2010. The inquiry’s full conclusions are set out in today’s published report.

The Commission confirmed in its inquiry that Viva Palestina was a charity, being exclusively charitable for the public benefit and any funds raised were held on charitable trusts.**

As a result of the Commission’s intervention, Lifeline for Gaza was registered as a charity with the Commission under the name Viva Palestina on 8 April 2009. The Commission ensured that the charity’s funds were effectively managed and controlled by the trustees of the charity.

The Inquiry report also contains a number of important wider lessons for the charity sector that the Commission has identified from this case regarding charitable status and registration, the application of charity property, and risks posed to charity funds.

End.

PR 17/10

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Notes to Editors

*In cases of significant risk and serious regulatory concern the Commission may open a statutory (formal) inquiry under Section 8 of the Charities Act 1993. The decision to open a statutory inquiry will be based on a number of factors, including evidence of risk to charity property. The criteria used for opening an inquiry are set out in the Risk and Proportionality Framework for the Commission’s compliance work on its website.

**(footnote 19, p7: During the closing stages of the Inquiry the current trustees informed the Inquiry that it was ‘the sincerely held view’ of thefounding Trustees ‘that they were intending to establish a campaigning entity rather than a charity.’ Regardless of what the founding trustees’ intentions, were the organisation they created was a charity as a matter of law.

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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