Prince's Trust criticised by Charity Commission for Tory 'donation'

Cash raised from fundraising lunch with Baroness Thatcher amounted to political support, says regulator

The Charity Commission has criticised the Prince's Trust for agreeing to a joint fundraising event with a body affiliated to the Conservative Party.

Last month the commission was alerted to the inclusion on the Electoral Commission's website of a £10,000 donation from the trust to Women2Win, a members' association of the Conservative Party.

Commission investigators accepted the trust's argument that the sum should not have been recorded as a donation because the charity had previously agreed to split the proceeds of the event - a lunch with Baroness Thatcher - with Women2win.

The charity argued that it could not have benefited from the event unless it had agreed to this arrangement, brokered by a member of its volunteer fundraising committee who was also affiliated with Women2win.

But the regulator said the arrangement amounted to indirect support of a political party by a charity, which is prohibited by charity law. Andrew Hind, chief executive of the commission, said: "Entering into a joint fundraising venture with a political party will almost certainly result in the charity giving support to that party, which would breach charity law and could damage a charity's reputation and call into question its independence."

Women2 win has subsequently paid the £10,000 back to the Prince's Trust.

A spokesman for the trust said he accepted the commission's findings and regretted that the incident had occurred. "However, we would like to point out that our volunteers acted in good faith to raise vital funds for young people and did not knowingly breach any regulations," he said.

He added that the trust would provide more training to its staff and volunteers to make sure there was no repeat of the incident. The commission has also updated its guidance on charities and political donations with a section warning political parties not to accept donations by charities.

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