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Charities: Terrorism

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many registered UK charities have been investigated by the Charity Commission in consequence of allegations of links with terrorist organisations in each year since 2001. (241809)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the Commission to reply.

Letter from Andrew Hind, dated 12 December 2008:

As the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Question on charities with alleged links to terrorism.

As you will understand, this aspect of our work is of a highly sensitive nature. We are limited in the amount of information we can provide, as we have to ensure that we do not prejudice our ongoing operational work and also the work being carried out by law enforcement and other agencies. Charities are not always aware of allegations of terrorist links so we do not publish statistics about the number of investigations or cases of this nature.

The Commission has powers to conduct formal, statutory inquiries under section 8 of the Charities Act 1993. Where we are able to, it is now our policy to publish reports stating the results of these inquiries. We also responded publicly in connection with the Home Office review and consultation in May 2007 on safeguarding the charitable sector from terrorist abuse. We were able to confirm that at that time the Commission had concluded 16 investigations relating to charities facing allegations of connections to terrorist activity over the past ten years. These included for example, the inquiry into Finsbury Park Mosque, where we removed Abu Hamza from his position at the mosque.

An example of a recent inquiry report which included issues of alleged links to terrorism is the inquiry into the UK Tamils Student Union (published 2007). Another is the report on Al Ikhlas Foundation, (published in October), which is still available via our website at www.charitycommission.gov.uk under inquiry reports.

Furthermore, we have begun annually to publish a report on the work of our compliance teams (who deal, among other issues, with cases involving alleged links with terrorism). The first of these reports, Charities Back on Track, was published earlier this year. It explains that of the 42 statutory inquiries reports that we published last year, one was related to allegations of links to terrorism. Charities Back on Track is also available on our website and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the House of Commons library.

I hope this is helpful.