Charity Commission investigates charity after chief executive is jailed

Zafar Iqbal, chief executive of the Southwark Muslim Women's Association, was sentenced to seven and a half years for multiple sex offences

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has opened a compliance case into the local charity whose chief executive was this week sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for multiple sex offences.

And Southwark Council announced that it had suspended all funding to the Southwark Muslim Women’s Association and was carrying out an urgent review.

Zafar Iqbal was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday, having been found guilty last month of historic sex offences against teenage girls.

The charity works to "improve the quality of life for Muslim women, children and elders", according to its objects.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said it had opened an operational monitoring compliance case into the charity. She said the conviction had not been reported to the regulator by the charity, as it would have expected under its serious incident policy.

"We have fixed a meeting with the trustees for later this month to discuss our concerns; namely, the issues surrounding the failure to report the incident and the reputational risk to the charity," she said.

Southwark Council provided £143,646 of funding to the charity in the year to 31 March 2014, according to a spokeswoman for the local authority.

In the previous year the charity had an income of £241,862, with slightly more than two-thirds of this coming from the council, according to the charity’s accounts.

Dora Dixon-Fyle, cabinet member for children’s services at Southwark Council, said Iqbal’s convictions were not related to activities on the premises of the organisation.

"We are appalled by this man's actions and we are undertaking an urgent review of the SMWA and its association with the council, which includes working closely with the police to check historic records," she said. "We have suspended the funding the organisation receives from the council until this review has been completed."

This investigation began in April, which was when the council was made aware of the situation, the council spokeswoman said.

Dixon-Fyle said the council had set up a helpline with the children’s charity the NSPCC for inquiries about this matter, from practical information about courses and activities run by the SMWA to other advice and support that is needed".

The charity did not respond to a request for comment.

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