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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Charity Commission looking out for religious scammers

The Charity Commission has removed seven supposedly religious charities from its register and refused charitable status to 28 more when it discovered they were shams. The police have been informed.

The seven registered charities, based throughout England, are:

  • Fellowship of ChangeUK
  • Fellowship of HopeUK
  • Foundation Baptist Assembly
  • Garden of Hope Chapel
  • Liberty Chapel
  • Praise Mission
  • Restoration of Joy Assembly.

All seven claimed that their charitable object was “the advancement of the Christian faith" and all were registered by the commission in July and August 2010. They remained on the register until the regulator removed them when it completed its investigation in March.

A report by the commission on its investigation into the 35 organisations, published last week, says their applications shared common features, including addresses that turned out to be unoccupied or did not exist and non-operational phone numbers.

It says the same financial information was repeated in different registration applications. All 35 groups had applied to register between 16 July and 4 August 2010.

The report says that, once the commission had become concerned about the links between the organisations, it opened regulatory compliance cases — investigations in which the regulator does not use its statutory powers — into the seven charities it had registered.

Attempts to contact the seven charities were “unproductive", says the report, because phone numbers did not work and postal details were not known by Royal Mail. As a result of the investigations, the regulator removed all seven charities from the register.

In the case of the 28 groups whose applications had not yet been accepted, the report says the commission also tried to contact them but did not receive responses. On these grounds, the report says, the commission decided not to register them as charities.

“The commission was unable to conclude that these were in fact legitimate organisations set up to operate as charities or that they legally existed," the report says. “Given the identified connections between the organisations, the commission was concerned that the information provided may be false, and therefore reported its concerns to the police."

The report says: “As part of its regulatory role, the commission sometimes has to consider the possibility that a body which has been registered as a charity is, in fact, a sham.

“The commission was concerned that there was a risk that, whilst they remained on the register, the public may provide money to these seven organisations on the basis that they were operating legitimate registered charities."

See also: Muslim TV channels constantly asking for money – but where’s it going?

Published Fri, 12 Aug 2011