Public statements about live compliance cases

The Commission’s involvement with the media on compliance work

The Commission often receives enquiries from the media about its engagement with charities on regulatory issues, including our assessment work and our investigations, (both regulatory compliance cases and statutory inquiries). These are dealt with by our Press Office in conjunction with the relevant teams. As you would expect, as a public body and in the interests of transparency, the Commission considers it is bound to respond accurately to press enquiries, whilst ensuring it does not prejudice due process and the outcome of its regulatory work.

Dealing with specific media enquiries

It is therefore our general policy to consider and issue a response to specific media enquiries on a case-by-case basis. However, we do not provide proactive updates or detail on ongoing investigative work. We will confirm, if asked, whether we have an investigation into a named charity.

Opening investigations

We do not routinely inform the media on a proactive basis of the opening of investigations. Whether we issue a press release is decided on a case-by-case basis. This decision is based on whether it is in the public interest to do so and with consideration of our objective to increase public trust and confidence in charities.

Factors that may be taken into account include:-

  • the extent of previous and/or current media interest in the issue and/or in relation to the charity;
  • whether it is already in the public domain that the charity is subject to a Commission assessment or investigation or there are other indications of public interest in the issue;
  • the nature and gravity of the regulatory concerns the Commission is examining;
  • the extent and nature of the Commission’s previous engagement with the charity, including whether or not there have been previous investigations;
  • the public, international, national or local profile of the charity (either generally or in relation to its specialist services) and/or its trustees or other associates/representatives;
  • how important it is that the Commission's findings and conclusions are a matter of public record and they are widely promoted; and
  • whether the matter raises issues of significant legal and/or policy development or issues that are likely to be of wider interest to the charity sector or the general public.
Closing investigations

Our policy, save for in exceptional circumstances, is to issue a press release when a statutory inquiry ends (which is marked by the publication of the statement of results of the inquiry on our website). For non-statutory investigations, our usual approach is to issue a press release where a regulatory case report (RCR) is published on our website. Our policy on publishing inquiry reports at the end of an inquiry and when we publish RCRs is explained further on our website.

In addition, we may decide to proactively promote the report by sending the release to specific journalists/media outlets, identified on a case-by-case basis. These may be, for example, specialists in an area relevant to the charity's services or the regulatory concerns (e.g. arts, media, health or sports) or local/regional media. Factors that may be taken into account when considering this include:-

  • the nature and gravity of the regulatory concerns;
  • any wider lessons or legal policy issues arising from an investigation that may be of wider interest and should be promoted;
  • any local/regional interest or issues that are of particular significance locally or regionally;
  • whether the matter raises issues of significant legal and/or policy development or issues that are likely to be of wider interest to the charity sector or the general public.

We may also highlight the publication of an investigation report or our engagement with a charity at the open Board meeting of the Commission or feature a case in Charities Back on Track or other Commission publications.

We may be asked follow-up or clarification questions about a report or investigation. These are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

The Commission’s engagement with members of Parliament (MPs) and Assembly members (AMs) on compliance work

MPs and AMs are representatives of the public resident in their constituency. Acting on behalf of their constituents, they have a legitimate interest in our involvement with charities in their constituency. As the elected representative in the area, they may well be approached by constituents with questions regarding our actions or role. Therefore, it is our usual policy to inform the local MP/AM when we open a statutory inquiry into a particular charity so they have a contact point at the Commission to address any concerns or queries they may have. We will not generally give detailed information of the nature of our concerns. We will confirm the general nature of the complaint raised with us or concerns being looked at. We will also inform the MP/AM when the inquiry is completed, sending them a copy of the published report. With regulatory compliance cases, we will inform the local MP/AM of the opening on a case-by-case basis, particularly if there has already been local press interest. We will generally send a copy of the published report to the local MP/AM when the investigation is completed.

May 2010

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