Charity Commission rejects criticism over Muslim Aid investigation

Andrew Gilligan claimed the regulator overlooked 'plausible evidence' of charity's links with proscribed organisation

Andrew Gilligan's Daily Telegraph blog
Andrew Gilligan's Daily Telegraph blog

The Charity Commission has rejected allegations from the journalist Andrew Gilligan that it ignored plausible evidence during its investigation into the charity Muslim Aid.

The regulator last week cleared the charity of illegally funding the Al-Ihsan Charitable Society, an organisation proscribed under anti-terrorism laws. The organisation was designated in 2005 under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2001, meaning it is a criminal offence to fund it without a licence from HM Treasury.

"By publishing this report, the commission has given a public assurance that public allegations of links between the charity and terrorism are unsubstantiated," the report says.

But in his blog for the Daily Telegraph, Gilligan accused the regulator of ignoring substantial evidence he had provided for the case, including statements from the US government, the Israeli government and the organisations themselves.

"[The commission] has only been able to reach this verdict by completely ignoring the vast majority of the allegations made against Muslim Aid, and by redefining the single allegation it did choose to ‘investigate’ in a way which allowed it to exonerate the charity," wrote Gilligan. "By its own admission, it did not even investigate seven out of the eight allegations which it now claims are ‘unsubstantiated’".

In response, a spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said the regulator needed material evidence given the nature of the claims against the charity.

"Some of the material provided to the commission as evidence referred to decisions made by a US federal court, the US Attorney General and by the Israeli government," she said. "Different countries are likely to have their own terrorism legislation and they are likely to hold their own sanctions lists relating to terrorist organisations and individuals. Whilst this may be the case, these country lists have no direct legal effect in the UK, unless the people or organisations on those lists are also designated or proscribed in the UK."

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