Gnostics rule out appeal but will complain to Charity Commission

Organisation says it has been "messed around" over its refused application for charitable status

The Gnostic Centre will submit a formal complaint to the Charity Commission over the way its failed application for charitable status was handled, but has ruled out making an appeal to the charity tribunal.

An internal decision review by the regulator in December upheld its decision to reject the Gnostic Centre's application because the Leeds-based organisation had not provided evidence that it promoted a "positive, beneficial, moral or ethical framework" as required by charity law.

Celia Ennis, a member of the organisation, said it had been "messed around" by the commission and would submit a formal complaint listing a number of grievances.

She said that when the organisation first applied for registration as a religious charity in 2006 after an earlier rejection as an educational charity, the commission indicated it would meet the criteria, only to change its mind some months later.

Ennis also complained that the commission had obliged the centre to prove its public benefit even though its application had been submitted before the Charities Act 2006 removed the presumption of public benefit for religious charities.

She said she found it impossible to follow the reasoning in the commission's decision review, but said the centre would submit a new application for charitable status and was confident it could meet the regulator's concerns in a new submission.

The organisation has ruled out appealing to the tribunal because it fears it might have to pay the commission's costs if it lost, she said. "It would also be a very public defeat, which wouldn't be very nice for us," she added.

A spokeswoman for the commission declined to comment on the allegations but said she was aware that the Gnostic Centre planned to submit a complaint. "We expect to receive this soon and will consider it in line with our complaints policy," she said.

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