Cage 'expected withdrawal of funding' because of Charity Commission chair's association with the Henry Jackson Society

The regulator, whose chair William Shawcross was a member of the think tank HJS, is investigating the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation, both of which funded the advocacy group

William Shawcross
William Shawcross

The advocacy group Cage has said it expected to have its funding withdrawn by two charities because William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, used to be a member of  the Henry Jackson Society, a charity and think tank that says its purpose is to "combat extremism and advance democracy and real human rights".

Cage, which is not a charity, has been the subject of intense media attention recently after making comments about the Islamic State terrorist "Jihadi John", who has been revealed to be a University of Westminster graduate, Mohammed Emwazi. Asim Qureshi, research director of Cage, said Emwazi was "a beautiful young man" and the UK security services played a part in his radicalisation.

The commission last Monday confirmed it had operational compliance cases open into the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation, which had both funded Cage. JRCT gave it £271,250 between 2007 and 2014, and Roddick gave £120,000 between 2009 and 2012.

On Wednesday, the commission said in a statement that charities should exercise "greater vigilance" when funding non-charitable bodies. On Friday, it released another statement saying the two charities had confirmed they would no longer fund Cage. JRCT said it had agreed to rule out any future funding after being "put under intense regulatory pressure".

Muhammad Rabbani, managing director of Cage, said it respected the charities’ decisions and thanked them for "contributing to the development of Muslim civil society here in the UK".

He said: "We anticipated this decision ever since William Shawcross, a leading member of the neo-conservative think tank the Henry Jackson Society, took over the Charity Commission. This is just another manifestation of their objective of pursuing a Cold War on British Islam.

"Cage will remain committed to its principle of speaking truth to power and calling for accountability and transparency. We will not hesitate in performing our role as whistleblowers and as advocates for due process."

The HJS was founded in 2005 and registered with the commission in 2011. It describes itself on its website as a "think tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free – working across borders and party lines to combat extremism, advance democracy and real human rights, and make a stand in an increasingly uncertain world". It had an income of £1.3m and 15 employees in 2013, according to its accounts.

Speaking to MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee in September 2012, a month before his appointment as chair was announced, Shawcross said he would resign his membership of the society if he got the job at the commission.

Both the commission and the society declined to comment.

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