Commission will clarify campaigning guidelines

Graham Willgoss

The Charity Commission has agreed to publish further guidance to clarify areas of confusion about its guidelines on campaigning.

The decision comes after the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and People and Planet presented the commission with the results of their own survey on the subject, which found that many NGOs supported the foundation's claim that the current commission guidelines are ineffective and cause uncertainty.

The charities said the guidance had "failed to lift a climate of uncertainty on this issue" and that there was "a risk that this uncertainty will shackle established charities and stifle the emergence of new ones".

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "We had a constructive meeting with the Sheila McKechnie Foundation at which the results of the survey were discussed. We are exploring ways in which the advice in our publication Campaigning and Political Activities by Charities can be more fully explained."

The charities' survey asked 16 senior campaigners from pressure groups including Friends of the Earth, Liberty and Christian Aid for their thoughts on the Charity Commission's guidance and current campaigning trends.

Greenpeace was voted the most effective campaigning charity because of its direct action stunts.

- See News Analysis Extra, page 5

ALSO... Tony Blair has accused NGOs and campaign groups of monopolising public debate on important issues. In a speech in California on Sunday, the Prime Minister said: "NGOs and pressure groups with single causes can be benevolent, but they can also exercise a kind of malign tyranny over the public debate." He stopped short of naming which campaigns his comments applied to.

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