The Charity Commission has issued an Official Warning to the Islamic Centre of England Ltd (registered charity 1058998) as it found the trustees failed to discharge their legal duties towards the charity, which has resulted in misconduct and/or mismanagement.
The charity was set up to advance the religion of Islam and education among the Muslim community and operates in London.
On 3 January 2020 the trustees allowed a candlelit vigil to be held at the charity’s West London premises in response to the death of the Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani has been subject to financial sanctions by HM Treasury for terrorism and/or terrorist financing since 17 October 2011 following a designation under the Terrorist Asset Freezing Etc Act 2010.
The event risked associating the charity with a speaker who may have committed an offence under the Terrorism Acts, as the speaker was filmed during the event appearing to praise and call for support for Soleimani. The trustees failed to intervene or provide a counter narrative.
The following day the trustees organised a further event for Soleimani and published statements on the charity’s website offering condolence and praise for him.
The trustees clearly failed to take account of regulatory advice and guidance issued by the Commission in January 2015 regarding the hosting of public events and the selection of speakers. They also put the charity’s reputation at risk.
As a result, the regulator has exercised its power under section 75A of the Charities Act 2011 to issue an Official Warning to the charity. This requires the trustees to take specific steps to review content on the charity’s website and ensure appropriate consideration is given and risk assessments conducted for any future events held at the charity’s premises.
Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director of Investigations and Inquiries at the Charity Commission said:
Through their actions the trustees have failed in their legal duties towards this charity, putting its reputation at risk. Any charity being associated with terrorism is completely unacceptable and we are concerned by the corrosive effect this might have on public confidence in this and other charities.
Charities exist to improve lives and strengthen society, so it is vital that trustees honour their responsibility to act in the best interests of their charity at all times. We expect the charity’s trustees to comply with the required actions to address our concerns.
The Official Warning is published here. The Commission has an ongoing regulatory case into the Islamic Centre of England Ltd.
Failure to comply with the actions set out in the Official Warning may lead to further regulatory action being taken by the regulator as part of its ongoing case.