Full Fact gains charitable status five years after first application

The independent fact-checking organisation made its first application in 2009 and its appeal on the matter to the charity tribunal was rejected in 2011

Full Fact
Full Fact

The independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact has gained charitable status, five years and one charity tribunal appeal after its first application to the Charity Commission.

Full Fact says on its website that every national newspaper and "politicians from across the political spectrum" have issued corrections at its request. It has a cross-party board of trustees and has been working with Sky News to cover the leaders’ speeches during party conference season.

The organisation was incorporated in 2009 but its first application for charity status, made in the same year, was rejected by the commission. In January 2011, it appealed to the charity tribunal against the regulator’s refusal to register it.

The tribunal found that "the activities that Full Fact wishes to pursue are capable of being charitable if they are pursued according to the standards and with the methodology appropriate to the provision of education", but rejected that application out of concern about the use of the words "civic engagement" in the objects.

Full Fact has since been engaging with the commission and has successfully re-applied for charitable status. It was entered onto the register of charities on 25 September with the charitable object of "the advancement of public education".

Will Moy, director of Full Fact, said: "Over the past four years, Full Fact has secured an award-winning role informing public debate, working with partners ranging from the Office for National Statistics to major broadcasters. We have earned their trust, and that of our users, by having careful quality control in place, overseen by our cross-party board of trustees. Becoming a registered charity will bolster that work.

"The trustees are very pleased that we will be able to take up offers of volunteering and donations that were not previously available; and that the donors we rely on will now be able to Gift Aid their donations."

Tom Murdoch, a senior associate at the law firm Stone King, who in June spoke at a seminar about charitable status for journalistic organisations, welcomed the commission’s decision.

"It shows that, although the commission’s role is not to change the law, it has a vital role, in parallel with the tribunal, to keep the meaning of what is charitable abreast with changes in society," he said.

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