Charity Commission dealt with Atlantic Bridge correctly, says legal compliance director

Kenneth Dibble tells open board meeting that the commission is prepared to defend its actions in a judicial review if necessary

Kenneth Dibble
Kenneth Dibble

The Charity Commission is prepared to defend the way it dealt with a complaint about the charity Atlantic Bridge if a judicial review of its actions takes place.

Speaking at the commission’s open board meeting yesterday, Kenneth Dibble, its executive director of legal compliance, said the regulator had been "right and proportionate" in its handling of a complaint about the charity, which was founded by the defence secretary Liam Fox.

Dibble said the commission was prepared to defend its actions in court if necessary.

The commission told the charity in July that its "current activities must cease immediately" because it promoted a political policy closely associated with the Conservative Party.

But solicitors acting on behalf of political blogger Stephen Newton, who made the complaint, said the commission should have opened a statutory inquiry into the charity rather than carrying out a less formal regulatory compliance case. This would have enabled it to inspect documents and records held by the charity.

The solicitors, Taylor Hampton, have asked the commission to "remedy its failings" or face a judicial review. It said that because Newton’s complaint alleged that the charity broke charity tax law by offering trips to the US in return for donations, the commission should have used its statutory powers to carry out an investigation.

Asked by Third Sector whether the commission should have carried out a statutory inquiry, Dibble said that the threat of a judicial review related to whether the commission’s actions had been proportionate, and he was confident they were.

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