Galloway's Lifeline for Gaza appeal investigated

Charity Commission claims it received "no substantive response" to requests for information

The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into the Lifeline for Gaza appeal, launched by Respect party MP George Galloway.

The appeal, also known as Viva Palestina, raised more than £1m, which funded a convoy of 110 vehicles carrying aid to Gaza from Britain following the Israeli offensive in January.

The appeal was not a registered charity but the commission says the appeal has charitable purposes and it has made repeated attempts to contact the appeal to gain assurance that the money raised was held for those purposes. However, it says it has received "no substantive response" to its requests.

George Galloway said that the Viva Palestina campaign had been in contact with the commission and sent a "substantial letter" to the regulator on Monday, following communication received from the commission that morning.

"There is no good reason why the commission should jump the gun and issue a statement that it is launching an investigation when, in fact, it was about to receive the information and correspondence it had asked for. But there are plenty of bad reasons for this outrageous behaviour," he said.

Under the terms of the inquiry, the commission has the power to freeze bank accounts or suspend trustees and employees.

In 2007, a Charity Commission inquiry into Galloway's Mariam Appeal, which sent medical aid to Iraqi children, concluded that the appeal took donations from "improper sources" and that trustees did not discharge their duty of charge. Galloway described the report as "sloppy, misleading and partial".

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