Audit charities to ‘weed out’ organisations promoting extremism, Rishi Sunak says

The Conservative Party leadership candidate says there have been ‘too many examples of publicly-funded charities and organisations accused of promoting extremist ideology in the UK’

Rishi Sunak (Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak (Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Charities should be audited to “weed out” organisations that promote extremism, the Conservative Party leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has said. 

Sunak, who is campaigning in the race to become the next prime minister, said this week that “there have been too many examples of publicly-funded charities” accused of supporting extremist ideologies.

Asked to name one of those charities, Sunak’s campaign team did not respond.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sunak’s team pledged that he would “weed out and cut off publicly-funded organisations that are promoting extremism in the UK” if he became prime minister.

The statement said: “There have been too many examples of publicly-funded charities and organisations accused of promoting extremist ideology in the UK.

“Rishi will conduct an audit of publicly-funded third-party organisations – starting with those linked to the government’s anti-radicalisation work – to make sure no extremist organisation receives taxpayer money.”

The Charity Commission, which currently has the power to investigate and audit charities, told Third Sector Sunak had not discussed his plans with the regulator.

Orlando Fraser, the new chair of the Charity Commission, emphasised last month that it was vital the regulator is “seen to be independent” of the government as well as the voluntary sector. 

Sunak also said he would expand the powers available under the government’s anti-radicalisation programme Prevent, so that officials could act against charities and other organisations suspected of “vilification of the United Kingdom”.

In January 2021, the government asked former Charity Commission chair Sir William Shawcross to review Prevent’s existing powers, but Shawcross is yet to publish any findings.

The Home Office said the review will be completed “in due course”.

Sunak is competing with the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. The winner of the contest is expected to be announced in the first week of September.

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