Legal Diary: On the lookout for a new, non-Beveridge quote for William Shawcross

Plus: the Charity Commission's new blog, judgment for Jehovah's Witnesses and a dust-up between the regulators

William Beveridge: oft cited
William Beveridge: oft cited

If you've ever heard William Shawcross speak, you'll be familiar with his quote from William Beveridge describing charity as the "golden thread in the tapestry of our national life". The Charity Commission chair uses the phrase in just about every speech, often with the preamble "my staff will have heard me say this before..." But it isn't just the staff who are suffering, so in the interests of everyone we've decided to launch NAPSAQ: the National Association to Procure Shawcross Another Quote. Yes, we will be seeking charitable status, and yes, we're fairly certain we can prove public benefit.

The word is out - from a certain point of view

The commission has started a new blog, which will help it "speak directly to the public interested in charities about its work". The first post, all about what's coming up in the rest of the year, is allegedly written by Shawcross but somehow lacks his usual writer's panache, not to mention the aforementioned golden thread. But it seems some readers want to get their spoke in too - the first comment asked whether it would publish posts from charities themselves. The moderator's reply was that it was "one to think about for the future". Isn't this bureaucrat-speak for "no way" - a bit like "I hear what you say" or "it's a point of view"? Watch this space at

Waiting for the Judgement Day

As the legal rearguard action by the Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Great Britain against a statutory inquiry by the commission winds ever onwards, cynics have noted that the society might be hoping to prolong the process until Kingdom Come - literally. The Jehovah's Witnesses represented by the society believe that the countdown to the end of the world began in 1914, and that we might not have long to go. The JWs are now on their way, very slowly, to the Supreme Court, so it might be touch and go whether their lordships will issue their judgment before the Almighty dispenses his.

A new kind of competition for the home nations

The UK's three charity regulators appear to be trying to outdo each other in smartening up their processes and procedures. South of the border in April, the commission is launching its new-look online annual return form, designed to be easier and more intuitive for charities to use. To the north, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is bringing in a shorter form for smaller charities, and one for larger ones that includes some deeper interrogation. And way out west the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, not to be outdone, is updating its online registration form on 31 March and has warned that any uncompleted applications in the system will be lost on changeover date. Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition...

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