Regulator orders mosque charity to remove party political mural from dome

Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, east London
Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, east London

An east London mosque and registered charity will remove a mural painted on its dome that urges people to vote for a candidate who is running in the same constituency as the Ukip leader Nigel Farage, after the Charity Commission was alerted.

On Friday, the slogan "Vote for Hope, Vote for Nigel Askew – Reality Party" was painted on the dome of Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, which is owned and operated by the UK Turkish Islamic Trust.

Askew is a pub landlord from Ramsgate and a parliamentary candidate in South Thanet, the same seat that Farage is contesting. He is standing for the We Are The Reality Party, founded by Mark Berry, better known as Bez, a member of the band Happy Mondays.

Askew is quoted in the local paper the Hackney Citizen as saying: "South Thanet has been consumed with propaganda on immigration, spreading a message of fear and racial disharmony. I am honoured the Muslim community of Dalston are making this wonderful gesture. The Reality Party is about inclusiveness, with all people standing together for responsible prosperity and against injustice."

A spokesman for Askew said that he is a longstanding friend of Erkin Ramadan Guney, whose father founded the mosque.

A spokeswoman for the regulator said: "Charity Commission guidance on campaigning and political activity makes clear that a charity must not give its support to any political party or candidate and that all charities must ensure that their independence is maintained and perceptions of independence are not adversely affected. As charity regulator, we expect charity trustees to take account of this fundamental requirement as a core part of their decision-making processes.

"The commission contacted the charity as a matter of urgency and we have been assured that immediate steps are being taken to remove the advert. We have reminded the trustees of their duties and are in continued correspondence in order to assess whether any further action is necessary."

A spokeswoman for the charity declined to comment.

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