Tsunami cash 'was already pledged to UK causes'

Francois Le Goff

An MP has accused three major UK companies of misleading the public by diverting money already pledged to UK good causes to the tsunami appeal.

Tom Harris, Labour MP for Glasgow Cathcart, told the House of Commons last week that Barclays Bank, BT and Marks & Spencer, which made large donations in the aftermath of the Asian disaster, claimed credit for money they had already planned to spend for charitable purposes.

"I believe these companies have misled the public," Harris said. He said he was contacted by Hospitality Action after the charity received letters from three companies that had chosen it as their charity of the year but had decided to support the tsunami appeal instead.

In a letter to Harris, Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose said: "We make decisions on behalf of our shareholders. These are difficult decisions, and we prioritise a range of worthy causes."

Barclays told Third Sector the company had made it clear in its letter to Harris that only a proportion of its £1.3m donation came from its existing charitable budget.

BT said its £500,000 donation came from other sources because it had already spent its charitable budget at the time.

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