Commission clears think tank of Tory bias

Civitas has been cleared by the Charity Commission of carrying out party political activities on behalf of the Conservative Party.

An MP, who has not been named, complained to the commission in February 2007 that Civitas, whose objects are "to advance the study and understanding of religion and ethics in society and other charitable purposes", was too closely affiliated to the Conservatives.

The regulator cleared Civitas of bias but advised it to amend its website to more accurately reflect its activities. The charity was also told to remove its Guiding Philosophy and Research Agenda document because, according to the commission's regulatory case report, it contained "a number of statements on controversial issues that could be perceived as directing the work of the charity".

The commission accepted Civitas trustees' assertion that the document had never "dictated or restricted" the charity's research programme or the outcome of any of its findings.

Earlier this year, the commission cleared two think tanks, Policy Exchange
and the Reform Research Trust, of being affiliated to the Conservative Party (Third Sector Online, 22 July), but warned them to work harder to avoid perceptions of political bias.

It also criticised trustees of the Smith Institute for not doing enough to protect it from the perception that it was too close to the Labour Party (Third Sector Online, 18 July).

The report can be found here.

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