Regulator 'has no concerns' over reports that Plymouth Brethren members campaigned for the Tories

The Times newspaper alleged that members leafleted for Tory candidates before the election; the PBCC says it is consulting lawyers

Plymouth Brethren Christian Church
Plymouth Brethren Christian Church

The Charity Commission has concluded that it has no concerns about allegations made in The Times newspaper that the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church campaigned for the Conservative Party before the general election.

In the same week as last month’s election, a Times story alleged that members of the PBCC, who do not vote, had been "leafleting for Conservative candidates in key marginal seats", including Chippenham in Wiltshire, Montgomeryshire and Yeovil in Somerset, and had said prayers for the party’s success.

The commission said that it would look into the matter. The church said it had begun its own investigation of the allegations and would cooperate fully with the regulator.

The commission said this week it would not take further action. A spokeswoman for the commission said: "Following an article in The Times, the commission contacted the Plymouth Brethren. The Brethren have fully cooperated with the commission’s enquiries, and we currently have no concerns regarding any issues linked to political campaigning."

A spokesman for the PBCC said: "We are of course pleased but unsurprised that the Charity Commission has rejected the false allegations from The Times newspaper and have concluded that there is no basis to take matters further." He added that the PBCC's lawyers were "seeking appropriate redress."

The PBCC is not itself a registered charity, but many of its local congregations are. In January 2014 the Preston Down Trust, a Devon-based congregation of the church, was registered with the commission after a five-year legal battle over whether it was established for the public benefit.

The church adheres to a doctrine of separation and has been accused of breaking up families and using harsh disciplinary practices. Since the registration of the PDT, more than 75 other Plymouth Brethren congregations have been granted charitable status by the commission, the register of charities shows.

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