The Charity Commission has declined to comment on a report that new powers due to be granted to the regulator under the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill will be used in a far more wide-ranging manner than previously expected.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported over the weekend that it had seen a leaked draft of the Home Office’s new counter-extremism strategy.
The draft reportedly said that, using powers granted through the charities bill, the commission would be able to remove from a charity board anyone who fitted a government definition of extremism – whether or not they had a terrorism conviction.
The charities bill, currently going through parliament, is set to give the commission powers to remove trustees and permanently disqualify them from taking up trusteeship at another charity if they have convictions for money laundering or terrorism offences, or have displayed conduct likely to damage public trust and confidence in charities.
The newspaper reported that the leaked document, concerning a strategy due to be published this autumn, said: "Once the legislation is enacted, the Charity Commission will take action against all trustees who meet the definition of extremism set out in this document."
It went on to define extremism as "the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs".
Third Sector reported in May that the commission considered that the proposed new power for it to disqualify people from acting as charity trustees would be used only in a handful of cases.