Full Fact, an organisation that checks the accuracy of statements made by politicians and journalists, has appealed to the charity tribunal against the Charity Commission’s refusal to grant it charitable status.
The organisation applied to become a charity in August 2009, saying its charitable objects were the promotion of education and citizenship. In December 2010, the commission refused the application. The organisation has now lodged an appeal against this decision with the tribunal.
Full Fact’s work includes publishing reports about the accuracy of public statements. It has recently published a report that says shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was incorrect to claim there was no structural deficit under Labour before 2008.
It has also published reports on the accuracy of newspaper statements about the proportion of anti-social behaviour orders that are breached and the proportion of British people that oppose EU membership.
Will Moy, director of Full Fact, said: "Trying to register as a charity has been a very difficult process and has cost us thousands of pounds in legal fees.
"The commission accepted that our work is capable of being classed as charitable, but then said that in practice it would have to meet rigorous standards of objectivity and independence in order to do so.
"Since we have an independent reviewer to scrutinise our work every three months, I don’t know what else the commission expects us to do.
"It seems like they’re saying that although we could theoretically be a charity, we can never be one in practice."
He said a letter from the commission advised the charity that if it wanted to appeal it should do so directly to the tribunal rather than using the regulator’s internal review procedure.
This was because the case had already been considered by senior staff within the Charity Commission, the letter said.
A spokeswoman for the commission said it had received notice of the appeal and was considering its response.