Hindu charity issues clarification after appearing to support the Tories

The National Council of Hindu Temples was contacted by the Charity Commission after sending an email to members that praised Theresa May and criticised Jeremy Corbyn

Headquarters of the NCHT
Headquarters of the NCHT

The National Council of Hindu Temples has issued a "clarification" to members after it sent an email before the general election that appeared to show support for the Conservative Party.

The Charity Commission said last week that it would urgently contact the charity, which sent an email to members praising Prime Minister Theresa May after she visited a Hindu temple in north-west London.

The email also said that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, had "alienated formerly loyal Hindu voters in droves, whereas the Conservative Party, which has demonstrated that it is listening to British Hindus, may well reap the rewards of this strengthening engagement".

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, the charity posted a letter on its website that said Hindus, Sikhs and Jains voting for Labour was "like turkeys voting for Christmas". It was removed after the charity was contacted by the Charity Commission.

An email sent by the commission to Sunny Hundal, a political journalist and commentator who made a complaint about the NCHT email, says the Charity Commission contacted the charity as soon as it became aware of the email.

"As a result of our intervention, the NCHT issued a clarification at the end of its email to members dated 7 June," says the email. "We have made it clear that NCHT must comply with our guidance on campaigning and political activities by charities and our guidance on charities and elections.

"The trustees have assured us that the charity is politically neutral and will not seek to or indicate that it supports a particular political party or candidate."

The commission concludes the email by saying it will monitoring the situation.

Hundal told Third Sector he was disappointed that the charity did not face more sanctions.

"It's not enough for the Charity Commission to merely get the NHCT to issue a 'clarification' after the election," he said. "This is the second time it has broken the rules in such a way and the commission's gentle slap on the wrist is unlikely to change its behaviour.

"While other charities go out of their way to stay within the rules, the ones who flagrantly ignore them are barely being punished. It is not right."

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the regulator had seen the text of the clarification but was unable to release it to Third Sector.

Satish Sharma, the charity’s general secretary, did not respond to a request for comment from Third Sector.

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