'I would never share our reports with sector bodies,' says philanthropist Gina Miller

In an interview with Third Sector, Robin Osterley of the Charity Retail Association claims he reached agreement with her that Miller's foundation would share future reports before publication

Gina Miller
Gina Miller

The philanthropist who has been widely criticised for producing allegedly inaccurate reports about the charity sector has denied agreeing to share the findings of any future studies with sector bodies before publication.

In an interview published in this month’s Third Sector magazine, Robin Osterley, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, says he met Gina Miller, founder of the True and Fair Foundation, and her husband Alan in April to discuss their highly critical report on charity shops, published in March.

The report was heavily criticised by a number of sector bodies, which described it as "embarrassingly poor" and "full of inaccuracies".

In the interview, Osterley says he secured a commitment from the Millers at the meeting, which took place on 12 April, that they would share any future reports they produced with the CRA and other sector bodies, such as the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, so they could fact-check before they were published more widely.

But Miller strongly disputed his account of what happened. "We did have a meeting, but the statement made to you is a lie," she told Third Sector.

"We would never make such a commitment while we had breath in our bodies. We stand by every single fact and statement within our reports and do not need any organisations – especially conflicted ones – to ratify reports that are based on facts and third-party reports."

She said that she recalled Osterley asking to be able to see any future reports, but both she and Alan Miller rejected the request.

"The only thing I can take from this is that, in a new role, he wants to be seen to be taking positive actions that are going to endear him to his members," Miller said. "That’s absolutely fine, but what I abhor is anybody lying and misrepresenting.

"It might be more useful if Osterley sent his reports or those pretending to be accurate representations of charity shop profitability to us for verification in the future."

Osterley said he stuck by his original comments, although he said the meeting had taken place some time before and he did not have detailed notes.

He also met Christopher Hope, a journalist on The Daily Telegraph newspaper who has written several articles critical of the sector, including two pieces in the past year about Miller’s reports.

Osterley said of this meeting: "We had a very cordial conversation. He was surprised about some of the things I had said about charity retail, which he wasn’t entirely au fait with."

He said they had agreed to keep in touch, but "nothing more came out of it than that".

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