'We have secret equipment, and we're off to Aus'

Thumbscrew: definitely not part of the equipment used by the Charity Commission
Thumbscrew: definitely not part of the equipment used by the Charity Commission

- The Charity Commission has a solid record in beating off requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, most recently with the Supreme Court's endorsement of its refusal to disclose details of inquiries into the Mariam appeal of George Galloway MP (a further request is now to be made under common law).

Now the website What Do They Know? gives the commission's response to a request by one John Kaye for details of the equipment issued to its investigators. The reply reveals, rather excitingly, that they get "stationery and access to a computer with various software programmes", but asserts that saying anything more would prejudice the commission's ability to establish if people have failed to comply to with the law, etc etc. Given that thumbscrews, the rack and waterboarding are a bit off limits nowadays, Kaye is presumably trying to get the commission to admit it can conduct surveillance and intercept phone calls - it does work closely in some cases with the police and security services, after all. But isn't that like trying to get blood out of a stone?

- The continuing furore over the new Australian government's proposals to abolish the recently created Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission did not prevent the ACNC from holding the sixth International Charity Regulators meeting in Melbourne this week. Nor did it prevent the Charity Commission for England and Wales being represented there by the doughty Kenneth Dibble, its chief legal adviser and head of legal services. "Under normal circumstances, our chief executive, Sam Younger, would have gone as well, but given that he is at the end of his term he thought best not," says a commission spokeswoman - which sounds like a noble sacrifice for the watchdog's shrinking budget. On the agenda in Melbourne was fraud, advocacy, lobbying and politics; and then there was also an Australian Charity Law Association forum in Sydney. Beats Llandudno, where the most senior commission representative at a recent public meeting was Neville Brownlee, head of first contact.

- "Every single day that you give makes you a superhero," gushes Charity and Philanthropy for Dummies, the new tome from the Dummy stable. "What name will you choose: Generosity Girl? Benefactor Boy?" It's got that American tang to it, but has some UK case studies and is intended as a global title, according to the publishers. It's written by three authors, including Karl T Muth, who has "donated more than 100 per cent of his salaried income each year for the past decade", according to the jacket, and John Kluge, co-founder of Toilet Hackers, which improves sanitation and hygiene in the developing world. So stop being a cynical Brit - it all helps.

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