Andrew Hind, chief executive of the Charity Commission, has insisted the regulator would be "mad" to undermine its reputation for impartiality by being politically biased in its assessments of the public benefit provided by charities.
Speaking at the commission's annual public meeting in London last night, Hind was responding to allegations in some newspapers that the commission's verdict on the fee-charging schools it assessed in its first round of public benefit assessments was politically motivated.
Hind said he rebutted the allegations "in the strongest possible terms" and defended Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the commission, who was castigated in some newspapers for her links with the Labour Party after the assessments were released.
"There was a lot of absolute nonsense written in the summer," he said. "No member of the commission or any board member would allow it to happen. Neither I nor Suzi would allow the commission's reputation for impartiality to be compromised. We would be mad to do it."
He said the commission had received a lot of positive feedback about the assessments. But he accepted that the legal basis for the assessments might need to be tested in the General Regulatory Chamber of the Tribunals Service – formerly the Charity Tribunal.
Leather said the commission did not have the resources to carry out a Scottish-style ‘rolling review' of the public benefit delivered by all 180,000 charities on its register. She said the main impact of the public benefit requirement in England and Wales would be on trustees' annual reports.
Rosie Chapman, director of policy and effectiveness at the commission, said the regulator would focus this year on monitoring levels of awareness of the public benefit reporting requirement and "establish a baseline" before beginning to analyse the contents of the reports next year.