Commission issues warning to Sikh temple after police called to disturbances

The Gurdwara Guru Nanak Parkash in Coventry has been told by the regulator to protect beneficiaries from harm on its premises

Gurdwara Gura Nanak Parkash (CU Journalism/Flickr)
Gurdwara Gura Nanak Parkash (CU Journalism/Flickr)

The Charity Commission has issued an official warning to a Sikh temple in Coventry after disagreements between trustees and breaches of the peace so bad that police had to be called.

The regulator warned trustees of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Parkash, Coventry, that it considered misconduct or mismanagement had taken place at the charity and called for them to put in safeguards to protect beneficiaries from harm on its premises.

The warning accused the charity of exposing members and beneficiaries to an undue risk of harm through "repeated disruption" at the temple, which were so bad that "a police presence has been required on a regular basis".

The media has reported on two violent incidents at the temple in the past five years - one in 2012 in which the local newspaper reported a 65-year-old man alleged he had been beaten with a mop by a volunteer, and one in January of this year in which a fight broke out over a religious disagreement, according to a Sikh website. 

The commission warning said trustees had failed to work collectively, made unauthorised payments and had failed to prevent the circulation of inappropriately political or extremist views and material at the temple.

Concerns were also raised in the warning about some members being unfairly denied access to the temple’s prayer hall and facilities.

The commission opened a case into the charity in 2015 and in a statement published today said it had found trustees had failed to comply with their legal duties.

"The trustees have been unable to collectively manage and act in the best interests of the charity due to internal differences," the statement says.

"The trustees have also failed to take reasonable steps to prevent physical, verbal or threatening behaviour on the charity’s property or towards members of the charity, and breaches of the peace have led to regular police attendance at the gurdwara."

This represented a failure to comply with the trustees’ legal duty to avoid exposing the charity’s assets, beneficiaries or reputation to undue risk, the statement said.

The warning had been issued to ensure trustees managed the charity in line with its governing document and the law, and the commission would continue to monitor the charity, the statement said.

The statutory warning calls on the trustees to ensure they make collective decisions only in the interest of the charity, ensure fair access to its facilities, prevent extremist or political ideologies being promoted through the temple and to put safeguard in place.

Failure to solve the problems at the charity could lead to further action being taken by the commission, the warning said.

A spokesman for the temple told Third Sector: "We are working with the Charity Commission to rectify any concerns that have been raised and once that has been turned around we are hoping to work with them to support other charities."

The commission was granted the power to issue official warnings in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016, but has only issued one previous warning, made to the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline in July. 

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