The stories of the month: Law & Governance

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

The Charity Commission's handling of a case spanning 22 years "was so poor it amounted to maladministration", a report from the public bodies ombudsman said. The report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman upheld a number of complaints from the miners welfare charity the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation about delays and contradictory and confusing advice in the commission's dealings with the charity that concerned a dispute involving the sale of land. The ombudsman ordered the commission to apologise and to pay the CISWO about £20,000 in compensation. The commission said it had changed its systems to avoid similar problems in future.

Age UK has been told by the Charity Commission to review its engagement with the energy market because of the "significant risks" associated with it. The charity suspended its energy tariff with E.ON in February after The Sun claimed Age UK was earning £6m a year from a tariff with E.ON to older people that was more expensive than the firm's cheapest rate. In a report published by the Charity Commission, the regulator said that although Age UK had processes in place, it had not sufficiently considered the risks of targeting beneficiaries with a commercial product in an area in which it also campaigns on its beneficiaries' behalf.

The Charity Commission has concluded in two separate reports that the trustees of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation acted in good faith in funding the advocacy group Cage, but their monitoring processes were inadequate. Both case reports said it was "difficult to see how in these circumstances the trustees could have been sufficiently assured that the monies given to Cage were used for charitable purposes, particularly as Cage is not a charity and not all of its activities furthered charitable purposes".

The High Court has ruled that the interim managers of the Cup Trust should be able to withdraw the tax-avoidance charity's £46m Gift Aid claim. The charity became the subject of a Charity Commission inquiry in 2013 after it emerged it had raised £176.5m in private donations over two years and attempted to claim £46m in Gift Aid, despite having spent just £55,000 on good causes. At a hearing in the High Court in January, the commission asked for a ruling that would direct the Cup Trust to discontinue the Gift Aid claim. Mr Justice Snowden said the decision of the interim managers to discontinue the claim was "within the range of decisions to which rational charity trustees could properly come".

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