Sunday Telegraph amends article after War on Want complaint

The Sunday Telegraph has removed a claim in a story that War on Want had been stripped of government funding as a result of alleged antisemitic remarks, after the charity protested.

The story, which appeared in the paper on 3 April, originally claimed the Department for International Development had "pulled" War on Want’s funding after hearing secret recordings of antisemitic comments allegedly made by speakers at an "Israeli Apartheid Week" rally sponsored by War on Want in February.

But DfID refuted the claim, saying it had not been funding the charity at the time the comments were made, and the charity said the article was a "complete fabrication"

Third Sector understands that War on Want has not received DfID funding over the past 12 months and has not applied to DfID for funding since 2012.

The amended online version of the Sunday Telegraph story says the government is no longer funding the charity and reports on the secret recordings, but has no longer has a reference to funding being withdrawn as a direct response to the comments allegedly made at the rally.

But War on Want, which has filed a complaint with the press regulator Ipso, said in a statement on its website that the newspaper had failed to provide a formal apology "for making up the story".

The statement said: "War on Want will continue to seek a satisfactory apology for the false accusations made by The Sunday Telegraph, both through the paper’s own editorial compliance department and through the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which has confirmed that it stands ready to pursue the case should the Telegraph fail to deal with it properly."

The charity also said it rejected the article’s accusations of antisemitism and had consulted the Charity Commission before joining an international boycott of Israeli goods.

It said: "The Charity Commission wrote back saying that the charity was perfectly entitled to make such a call."

A Charity Commission spokesman confirmed that the charity had approached it in 2004 about its plans to join the boycott. 

He said: "The commission responded with regulatory advice that this may be permissible but that trustees should consider a number of issues, including the requirements of CC9, whether it was permissible under the charity’s governing document and whether the benefits to beneficiaries outweighed any reputational or other risks."

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