Top barrister to examine 'unclear' campaign laws

Leading barrister Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is to chair a high-level review of laws and regulations that govern campaigning by charities and voluntary organisations.

The review is intended to take advantage of what participants feel is a favourable climate at the Office of the Third Sector under Ed Miliband, a self-declared champion of campaigning.

The review will examine CC9, the Charity Commission's guidance on campaigning by charities, and the legislative and regulatory framework affecting all voluntary groups.

This includes restrictions on media advertising, mainly in the Communications Act 2003, restrictions on public demonstrations, including the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, and limits on use of the Freedom of Information Act.

Baroness Kennedy said there was ambiguity in the law that the Charities Act had failed to address. "The line in the sand is very unclear," she said.

"Kate Moss was stopped from clicking her fingers on TV to indicate the death of a child in Make Poverty History, for example. I think the public would have found that acceptable."

Ian Leggett, director of student campaigning organisation People and Planet, proposed the review. He said: "There is a widely shared view that charity, media and criminal law need reforming if the Government's commitment to the voice and empowerment of the voluntary sector is to bear fruit."

Members of the review group include Amnesty International, Liberty, the NCVO's campaigning effectiveness unit, the Sheila McKechnie Foundation and former chief charity commissioner Richard Fries.

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