The Charity Commission is considering whether it needs to take regulatory action against the right-wing think tank the Henry Jackson Society, after the Japanese embassy reportedly paid the charity to promote anti-China propaganda.
The commission said it had contacted the HJS in connection with an article in The Sunday Times at the end of January that said the think tank had received about £10,000 in a deal with the Japanese embassy to wage a propaganda campaign against China.
A spokesman for the commission said: "The Charity Commission has contacted the trustees to obtain further information to be able to assess whether there is a regulatory role for the commission."
William Shawcross, chair of the commission, was a member of the society’s council, but resigned when he was appointed to the commission in 2012.
A spokesman for the HJS said the charity was happy to cooperate with the commission.
The Sunday Times article said that, as part of its propaganda campaign, HJS encouraged politicians and journalists to voice opposition to Chinese foreign policy.
This included an article that appeared in The Daily Telegraph in August 2015 attributed to Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, which expressed concern about China’s involvement in the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
Rifkind said he had been approached by the HJS to put his name to the article and the charity ought to have informed him of its financial relationship with the Japanese embassy, The Sunday Times said.
In a statement responding to the story, the HJS said it had approached Rifkind and that he had proposed a number of amendments to the initial draft to ensure it reflected his own views.
The statement said: "We would like to apologise to Sir Malcolm for our failure to fully inform him of all the circumstances relevant to the preparation of this article."