The bishop of a charity-run church has appeared in court charged with fraud and unfair trading offences after being accused of promoting fake coronavirus protection kits.
Climate Wiseman, who has been involved with The Kingdom Church GB charity in south London since 2002, appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Wiseman indicated not guilty pleas to a single charge of fraud and two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations between March 23 and 24.
Southwark Council brought the prosecution after an investigation revealed claims that fake Covid-19 protection kits, made of oil and string, had “cured at least 10 people” in phone calls to the charity.
The case has been sent to Inner London Crown Court, where Wiseman is next expected to appear on September 13.
At the time it said it had serious ongoing concerns about the charity’s administration, governance, and the financial relationship with its two subsidiary companies, World Conquerors Christian Centres and Kingdom Church.
Wiseman is a director at both and a former trustee of the charity.
The regulator opened a compliance case into the charity in April last year after the National Secular Society said the charity had been advertising false coronavirus cleansing products made of oil and string.
The charity denied at the time that it promoted or sold the equipment, but said it was instead sold by a separate company called Bishop Climate Ministries, run by a church trustee.
In August, the commission said it had escalated the case into a statutory inquiry after it uncovered issues with the charity’s finances, including concerns about the accuracy of the information provided to the regulator about its income and expenditure.
The commission had previously stated it had appointed Virginia Henley of the law firm Hewitsons LLP to conduct a review of the charity and its relationship with the subsidiary companies.
The charity, which has filed its accounts with the regulator several months late in each of the past four years, had an income of £368,790 and expenditure of £367,648 in 2018.