Rob Wilson says he expects charities to take 'swift action' after death of Olive Cooke

The Minister for Civil Society is meeting representatives from sector umbrella and regulatory bodies this afternoon to talk about the issues raised by the death of the poppy seller

Rob Wilson
Rob Wilson

Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, has said he expects charities to take "thorough and swift action" after the death of the 92-year-old poppy seller Olive Cooke.

Representatives of the Fundraising Standards Board, the Institute of Fundraising and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association will meet Wilson in Westminster this afternoon.

The meeting comes after the much-reported death of Cooke, who was found dead in the Avon Gorge, near Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, last month. An inquest into her death has been adjourned until July, but newspapers had speculated that the death of the long-term Royal British Legion volunteer was a result of the large volume of requests for donations she received from charities – a claim her family has denied.

After public criticism and discussion of charity fundraising methods, the minister said last month that he would meet the fundraising self-regulation bodies shortly.

Wilson said in a statement yesterday: "Tomorrow I will meet the key people who are responsible for regulating charity fundraising so that they can provide a detailed explanation of the steps they are taking in light of recent events. It is essential that charities have the full confidence of the public and I therefore expect thorough and swift action to be taken."

Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, told MPs in the House of Commons last week that the affair was a "shocking case" and an example of "wholly inappropriate behaviour". He said: "This government will be bringing forward measures to address issues within the charitable sector that will provide an opportunity to debate and discuss these issues."

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the FRSB has said Cooke’s death was "a watershed for fundraising", and the director of fundraising at Oxfam has said charities must be proactive in addressing the concerns raised, rather than just waiting and taking their cue from the fundraising regulators.

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