Anna Turley withdraws amendment to allow charities to appeal Charity Commission warnings

Anna Turley tells MPs that giving the power to issue warnings represents a 'substantial shift in the relationship between charities and the commission'

Anna Turley, the shadow minister for civil society
Anna Turley, the shadow minister for civil society

The shadow minister for civil society has withdrawn an amendment to the charities bill that would have given charities the right to appeal against official warnings from the Charity Commission.

Anna Turley put the amendment forward to the general committee stage of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, calling for charities to be able to appeal against the new powers the bill would give the commission to issue warnings for low level misdemeanours.

Failure to comply with such warnings would be considered misconduct or mismanagement and could trigger a statutory inquiry.

As the bill stands, the only way to appeal against it would be to seek a judicial review, a path Turley described as expensive and inaccessible, adding the warnings represented "a substantial shift in the relationship between charities and the commission".

"We have to be aware that there may be a possibility for the Charity Commission to make mistakes, and we think there should be a right to redress if they feel they have been treated unfairly," Turley said during the committee debate on Tuesday.

However, she withdrew the amendment after Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, made it clear the government would not support the amendment.

Turley said the opposition did "still have some serious concerns" about the bill, and would "look forward to working through some of the clarifications around this away from the statute books".

Wilson said he believed the judicial review system was better placed to deal with warning appeals than the charity tribunal.

"To use a footballing analogy I consider an official warning to be a sort of yellow card, whereas the statutory investigation and remedial powers are more of a red card," he said.

"The commission has told me the resources required to defend warnings at tribunal would be disproportionate to the issues at stake, thereby rendering them useless."

The Charity Commission would issue guidance on official warnings before the power was commenced, he said. 

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