The chair of one of the four charities that appeared among signatories of a pro-Conservative letter has told Third Sector the charity was "added in error" and he had requested its name be removed immediately.
Yesterday, the Charity Commission said it would write to four charities that were listed among the 5,025 "small business owners" who signed the letter, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph on Monday.
The regulator said that signing such a letter "is not a legitimate activity for a charity" and told the four charities to "remedy the situation swiftly", Third Sector reported yesterday.
The letter said the government "has been genuinely committed to making sure Britain is open for business", and ended: "We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years." The signatories had been collected by the Conservative Party and then submitted to the Telegraph.
Third Sector was yesterday able to contact three of the charities in question – Cardiff-based Diverse Cymru, the East Doncaster Development Trust and the supported housing charity the Marsha Phoenix Memorial Trust – all of which said their names should be removed. All three said that their inclusion on the list had been by error. It appeared that the individuals named had not been aware that their names would be included alongside those of their charities.
The fourth charity signatory on the list – Uldis Revelins, chair of the Latvian Welfare Trust – has since contacted Third Sector, saying in an email that the charity’s name being placed alongside his in the letter was an error that "arose from use in a personal capacity and too much haste in clearing accumulated emails".
He said: "The Latvian Welfare Trust was added in error. We have already written to the Conservative Party requesting that the name of the trust is removed from this list immediately. The Latvian Welfare Trust is not affiliated with and does not support any particular political party. Neither does the trust have any policies of a political nature and should not appear on the endorsements for any political movement."
The trust and the other three charities remain on the list of signatories on the Telegraph website.
The letter has also been criticised for listing several individuals more than once and for containing several names of people who are also candidates in the general election, such as Keith Dewhurst, chair of Diverse Cymru. The Conservative Party is directing anyone with concerns about their inclusion among the signatories to speak to the Telegraph.