Charities providing Palestine aid are victims of 'sinister agenda'

Labour MP claims banks that close charities' accounts are acting on unfounded rumours

Charities that help Palestinians are becoming victims of a "sinister agenda", according to Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn, MP for Islington North, told Third Sector he was disappointed that Barclays Bank intends to close the bank account of the Ummah Welfare Trust, an aid charity working in Palestine and other Muslim countries, on 19 January.

"It seems there's a sinister agenda going on, where people can make baseless accusations against respected charities and the banks act on these rumours," he said. "The people who lose are those most desperately in need of medical help in Palestine."

Barclays wrote to UWT last month to say the account would be closed, but did not give a reason for the decision.

UWT has made donations to Interpal, a Palestinian aid charity which is currently the subject of a Charity Commission inquiry. Interpal saw its banking activity curtailed when Lloyds TSB, one of the four clearing banks through which all UK banks must work, ordered the Islamic Bank of Britain to freeze Interpal's account.

The Interpal inquiry was opened in December 2006 to examine alleged links to Islamist group Hamas. Previous investigations by the commission found there was no evidence to support the allegations.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the commission could not influence a business decision made by a bank and met UWT representatives this week. "We will be discussing the potential implications for UWT's charitable work with its trustees, and will provide them with any appropriate advice and guidance," the spokeswoman said.

Barclays declined to comment and UWT were unable to comment in the time available.

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