The Charity Commission has issued an official warning to an Islamic charity after it praised a deceased Iranian military leader who had been subject to anti-terror sanctions.
The regulator said in a statement that the trustees of the Islamic Centre of England had been responsible for misconduct and/or mismanagement when it allowed a candle-lit vigil to be held at its north-west London premises in January at which a speaker appeared to praise Major General Qasem Soleimani after his death in a US drone strike.
Soleimani had been subject to financial sanctions by the UK government for terrorism and/or terrorist financing, the regulator said.
The commission said the event risked associating the charity with a speaker who might have committed a terrorist offence, because the speaker was filmed during the event appearing to praise and call for support for Soleimani.
It said trustees failed to intervene or provide a counter-narrative.
The regulator said the trustees organised a further event for Soleimani the following day and published statements on the charity’s website offering condolences and praise for him.
“The trustees clearly failed to take account of regulatory advice and guidance issued by the commission in January 2015 regarding the hosting of public events and the selection of speakers,” the commission said. “They also put the charity’s reputation at risk.”
The warning says the charity’s trustees must review all references to Soleimani on its website, take steps to ensure any future events at the charity’s premises are held only after appropriate discussion and a risk assessment, and review its speaker policy.
Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: “Through their actions the trustees have failed in their legal duties towards this charity, putting its reputation at risk.
“Any charity being associated with terrorism is completely unacceptable and we are concerned by the corrosive effect this might have on public confidence in this and other charities.”
The commission said a regulatory case about the charity continued.