Cage withdraws judicial review over Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Plus: Four charities in High Court wrangle over £1.6m legacy; Charity Commission to consult on fundraising guidance

The advocacy group Cage withdrew its judicial review of the Charity Commission's actions over the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust after the commission acknowledged in the High Court that it had no power to forbid charities to fund organisations in the future, regardless of circumstances. Cage sought the review after the commission wrote to charities that had previously funded Cage, including the JRCT, seeking "unequivocal assurances" that they would never offer further funding. The JRCT gave the assurances after what it called "extreme regulatory pressure". The commission acted after comments were made at a press conference by Asim Qureshi, the director of Cage, in February, revealing the group had interacted with the British citizen and Isis militant Mohammed Emwazi, now believed dead. Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John", is believed to have beheaded several hostages. During a hearing before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, and Mr Justice Ouseley, counsel for Cage and the JRCT, represented as an interested party, a statement by the commission was drawn up on the basis of which the action was withdrawn. Part of the statement said: "The commission does not seek to fetter charities' exercise of discretion whether to fund the charitable activities of Cage for all time, irrespective of current circumstances." In a related development, the Charity Commission declined to comment on an email sent by William Shawcross, its chair, in which he warned that charities supporting the advocacy group Cage were "funding a front for jihadist terrorists".

Four charities were involved in a High Court legal dispute with the son of a 95-year-old woman with Alzheimer's over a £1.6m inheritance. The estate of Dorothy Whelen, who died three years ago, was left to Marie Curie Cancer Care, the RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss and the Institute of Cancer Research. The will, made in 1982, has been lost. But Alan Turner, the son of Hazel Turner, who could not attend the High Court hearing, claimed Whelen made a second will in 1999 in which she pledged to bequeath her home, Tiltyard Cottage near Hampton Court Palace, to his 95-year-old mother, who was her life-long friend. Richard Wilson, the charities' barrister, told the court the 1999 will was never executed in a valid way and that Whelen would not have understood or approved of its contents. Simon Myerson QC, representing Turner, contended that it was "inherently implausible" she had perpetrated a fraud against her closest friend. No ruling had been made as Third Sector went to press.

The Charity Commission will consult on updating its CC20 guidance on fundraising in response to the recent controversy surrounding charity fundraising, Paula Sussex, the regulator's chief executive, told delegates at the Trustee Conference 2015, organised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the charity law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite. In light of the controversy, said Sussex, the commission would be relaunching the fundraising guidance, making it stronger and clearer about trustees' responsibilities.

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