Comic Relief pledges not to invest in alcohol, tobacco or arms companies

The charity says it will be more transparent about how it invests money raised from its appeals

Comic Relief
Comic Relief

Comic Relief has said that it will not invest in alcohol, tobacco or arms companies and will be more transparent about its investments following a review into the charity’s investment policy

The review took place after a BBC Panorama programme, broadcast last December, showed that Comic Relief had potentially invested millions of pounds in companies whose activities appeared to go against the charity’s mission.

The investment review panel recommendations, published today, said that the charity should not invest in companies that manufacture arms or tobacco or whose primary business is the manufacture of alcohol products, but added that they should "aim for only a small number of absolute prohibitions" in order to "avoid an excessive reduction in the universe available for investment".

The panel made five recommendations in total, all of which have been accepted by the charity’s main board.

Among the recommendations were providing more information about its investments in its annual accounts, including a list of funds, breakdown by asset class and details about selected investments of more than £5m. It will also sign up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and become part of the Charities Responsible Investment Network.

The charity pledged to build stronger links between its investment committee and trustees to ensure better alignment of the charity’s strategy and investment policy. Two new trustees will be added to the investment committee.

It has also promised to continue to set aside a small percentage of its money for social investment.

Tim Davie, chair of Comic Relief, said in a statement: "Public trust is the cornerstone of Comic Relief. We now have an investment policy that is firmly in line with the ethos of the charity, at the same time as making sure that the money we raise can go further to change lives both here in the UK and abroad."

The review was conducted by John Kingston, chairman of the investment review panel and the chair of the Association of Charitable Foundations, Andrew Hind, professor of charity governance and finance at Cass Business School, and three Comic Relief trustees, Mike Harris, Diana Barran and Harry Cayton.

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