Regulator winds up charity that funded hate speech

The Charity Commission has wound up a Muslim charity that funded TV programmes that incited violence and hate speech.

The regulator’s inquiry into Islamic Research Foundation International found the charity had granted £3.6m to Universal Broadcasting Company, the parent company of the Peace TV channels’ two licence-holders, between 2015 and 2020.

The sum accounted for 96 per cent of the charity’s expenditure during that period.

The inquiry found that IRFI had also distributed leaflets appealing for donations at Ramadan and for Zakaat that included the Peace TV logo and/or website and email address.

Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu had been broadcasting programmes that incited violence, and programmes containing hate speech and abusive treatment since 2009, according to Ofcom.

The commission said the inquiry, which was opened in April 2020, found “the trustees mismanaged the charity and did not act in its best interests”, which included their decision to continue funding for Peace TV.

Before the inquiry, the regulator disqualified IRFI’s founder and one of its trustees, Zakir Naik, from acting as a trustee and from holding senior management functions in any charity in England and Wales for seven and a half years.

Naik was also barred from entering the UK in 2010 due to being an Osama bin Laden sympathiser and saying that all Muslims “should be terrorists”.

The Charity Commission appointed an interim manager in July 2020, to take over the charity’s management and to make a determination regarding its viability.

The interim manager concluded that the charity was no longer viable.

The commission removed IRFI from the register on 11 May and said the charity’s remaining funds of £57,950 had been transferred to three charities with similar objectives.

Tim Hopkins, assistant director, investigations and inquiries, at the Charity Commission, said: “This charity was mismanaged by its trustees, including through their failure to manage the charity’s relationship with Peace TV channels following Ofcom’s findings.

"These and other repeated governance failures rendered the charity unviable, and the commission’s intervention has secured its dissolution.

“As part of our intervention into this charity we determined that Dr Naik’s conduct makes him unfit to act as a trustee or hold senior management positions in any charity in England and Wales. Our order protects charities by prohibiting him from acting.”

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