The trustees of a now defunct charity have been removed and disqualified after a police investigation into materials linked to a terrorist organisation that were displayed on the charity’s premises.
According to the inquiry report, published today, in April 2016 the Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the Anatolia People’s Cultural Centre, which had objects to support people of Kurdish or Turkish descent in the UK, after it was alerted by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.
One of the trustees, Ayfer Yildiz, was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences in relation to leaflets and photographs apparently promoting the proscribed group the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front, which has been linked to several terrorist attacks in Turkey.
Yildiz was cleared of two counts of disseminating terrorist publications, but the commission’s inquiry concluded that the materials, which were displayed on charity premises in what the commission’s report describes as a "shrine", were visible from the street and would lead an ordinary member of the public to infer that the charity supported the group and its actions.
After the trial had concluded, Yildiz was removed from the charity in August 2017.
The commission’s inquiry found other regulatory concerns, including the fact that the charity had no bank account despite this being a requirement of the charity’s governing document.
It had received a grant of £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund in 2010 and apparently had an income of at least the £12,000 a year required to pay its rent.
Trustees failed to respond to commission requests for and orders to supply information during the enquiry, and had failed to file its annual accounts with the commission between 2011 and 2015.
The other five trustees were disqualified in March 2017, then removed the following May after they failed to resign.
The commission judged that the charity had ceased to operate and it was removed from the register in September 2017.
Michelle Russell, the commission’s director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement, said: "The association of any charity with terrorism and/or extremism is wholly unacceptable.
"The role of charity trustees is to protect their charities from abuse of this kind and the trustees’ failure to do this or to cooperate with the regulator is evidence that they are unfit to act as charity trustees.
"As was the case here, we work closely with the police and other authorities to tackle the threats that terrorism and extremism pose to charities, their beneficiaries and their work."