Charity Commission urged to investigate Jewish newspaper

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PRESS RELEASE –

A group of pro-Palestine activists and academcis has written to the Charity Commission asking it to urgently review the charitable status of entities funding Britain’s leading Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Chronicle.

The charity watchdog for England and Wales has been asked to look into alleged breaches of rules required for an organisation enjoying charitable status after it emerged that the JC’s previous financier, the Kessler Foundation, enjoyed charitable status.

The Foundation held a controlling interest in the JC and was ultimately responsible for what it published.

The complaint rests on the basis that although JC is not itself a registered charity, its past and possibly future financiers are, which by extension makes the JC itself subject to Charity Commission rules and regulations.

The complaint alleges that the newspaper has broken many rules. These include the requirement of charities to ensure that any political campaigns they undertake are ‘factually accurate and have a legitimate evidence base’. However, in recent years the JC has lost several libel claims for which it has had to pay out substantial damages.

The newspaper has also carried numerous articles questioning or denying the existence of Islamophobia, including by the commentator Melanie Philips. The letter’s authors are of the view that undermining of the existence and prevalence of racism by a charity brings that charity and the charitable sector into disrepute and is therefore something that would put the JC and its financiers in breach of Commission rules.

The finacially troubled Jewish Chronicle was recently bought by a consortium which includes the former head of the Charity Commission, Sir William Shawcross. The consortium is reported to have decided to: “establish a charitable trust to oversee the newspaper, appointing trustees…”. IHRC is concerned that forming another charitable trust will simply replicate the serious breaches seen under the ownership of the Kessler Foundation and further bring the charitable sector into disrepute.

The signatories are also seeking clarification on the potential conflicts of interest pertaining to relationships between Shawcross and The Jewish Chronicle during his tenure at the Charity Commission, in particular, but not solely with regard to involvement in complaints against the Kessler Foundation or any charity related to the Jewish Chronicle.

During his tenure, Shawcross was widely accused of targeting Muslim charities and instituting numerous investigations against them, the overwhelming majority of which returned a clean bill of health.

The letter is signed by the following individuals and organisations:

Massoud Shadjareh, Chair, Islamic Human Rights Commission
Arthur Goodman, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP)
Abbas Ali, Inminds Human Rights Group
Mick Napier, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPCS)
Professor Abbas Edalat, Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)
Professor Haim Bresheeth, Professorial Research Associate, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, School of Oriental and African Studies
Michael Chanan, Professor Emeritus, University of Roehampton
Les Levidow, Jewish Network for Palestine
Stephen Sizer, Reverend, Peacemakers
Samir Haidari, Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission

The full text of the letter can be read at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/news/articles/27236-complaint-to-charity-commission-re-jewish-chronicle/

For more information or comment please contact the Press Office on (+44) 7958522196[ENDS]

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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