Government will address issues raised by Olive Cooke case, Chris Grayling says

Grayling, Leader of the House of Commons, was responding to a question in a parliamentary debate from Labour MP John Spellar about the 'gross exploitation' of vulnerable people by charities

Chris Grayling
Chris Grayling

The government will bring forward measures to address the issues that have arisen in the wake of the death of the poppy seller Olive Cooke, Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, told MPs this morning.

In response to a question during a debate in the Commons, Grayling said it was a "shocking case" and an example of "wholly inappropriate behaviour". Cooke was found dead in the Avon Gorge in Bristol earlier this month, having reportedly been deluged by fundraising requests from charities before she died.

"This government will be bringing forward measures to address issues within the charitable sector – that will provide an opportunity to debate and discuss these issues," said Grayling.

He added that he did not expect there would be any opposition among MPs to making sure that charities operated in an acceptable way that was consistent with the role they were supposed to play.

Grayling had been asked by John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley, whether the government would be taking cross-departmental action to stop the "gross exploitation" of vulnerable people by charities.

Spellar said: "The country was shocked by the death of Olive Cooke, who had been pursued by fundraisers for charities. Round the country vulnerable pensioners are regularly and relentlessly being targeted not only by charity fundraisers but also by criminal organisations, many of them operating from outside the UK.

"This causes great distress, not only to them, but also to their family and friends who are concerned about their welfare."

Grayling also said in his response that he agreed fully with Spellar’s comments and urged him to continue pushing for action to be taken to address the matter during the current parliament.

Cooke’s family have said that charities were not to blame for the 92-year-old’s death. An inquest into her death was opened last week and adjourned until July.

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