News special: The Charities Bill - Commission protests at peer'saccusations

Stephen Cook

The Charity Commission is writing to a member of the House of Lords to protest about his claim that its actions led to starvation and blindness for children in Iraq and India.

Lord Swinfen made the claims during the second reading of the Charities Bill last week when he argued that the commission sometimes acted in "a cavalier fashion" in its regulation of charities.

He said cases included Iran Aid, "where the commission abandoned to starvation and death some 13,500 children in Iraq" and the Hedley Roberts Trust, "where the commission abandoned to blindness Indian children who worked on the salt pans by cutting off the supply of sunglasses".

Andrew Hind, chief executive of the commission, told Third Sector that he would be writing to Lord Swinfen to refute these claims, and copies would be sent to other peers who took part in the debate.

"We don't want to mask the generally constructive nature of the Charities Bill debate," he said. "But we cannot allow statements like that to go unchallenged."

It is understood that Lord Swinfen was briefed by the Association for Charities, which has campaigned against the commission's regulatory practices and published a description of cases called Power Without Accountability.

- See News in focus, page 20.

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