The Charity Commission is looking into grants made by two foundations to the Islamic-focused human rights group Cage, which has blamed UK security services for radicalising the terrorist known as "Jihadi John".
Last week, Asim Qureshi, research director of Cage, which is not a registered charity, said during a press conference that Mohammed Emwazi, a graduate of the University of Westminster who has been named as the Islamic State executioner, was "a beautiful young man" and harassment by MI5 and other anti-Islamic forces had contributed to his radicalisation. It has also released emails from Emwazi detailing his life before joining IS.
According to a statement posted on its website on Friday, the JRCT made three payments to Cage between 2007 and 2011 totalling £305,000, and another in 2014. It does not say how much the 2014 grant is worth, nor if the charity would continue funding Cage. A spokeswoman for the charity said she could not comment further on the statement.
The statement said: "The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has previously funded Cage to promote and protect human rights. We believe that they have played an important role in highlighting the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo Bay and at many other sites around the world, including many instances of torture.
"The trust does not necessarily agree with every action or statement of any group that we have funded. We believe that Cage is asking legitimate questions about security service contact with those who have gone on to commit high-profile and horrific acts of violence, but this does not in any way absolve any such individual from responsibility for such criminal acts."
The website of the Roddick Foundation shows that Cage received grants from it in 2009/10, 2011/12 and 2012/13, but not in 2013/14. Exact grant amounts are not given, but in 2012/13 it was one of 18 human rights organisations receiving a combined total of £462,010.
A statement on the commission’s website this morning said it had operational compliance cases open into both charities’ funding of Cage, looking into "how the trustees have ensured that charitable grants made to non-charitable bodies are used only for exclusively charitable purposes in line with their objects".
The case on the Roddick Foundation was opened in March 2014 and that on the JRCT in September 2013, according to the commission.
The commission statement said: "This regulatory engagement has included robustly examining each charity’s decisions to previously make grants to Cage, which is not a charity. Public statements made in the past few days by Cage raise clear questions for a charity considering funding its activities as to how they could comply with their legal duties as charity trustees."
According to its website, Cage has not been able to open a bank account since it was shut down more than a year ago.