Baroness Stowell will not seek a second term at the Charity Commission

26 Oct 2020 News

Baroness Stowell, chair of the Charity Commission

The chair of the Charity Commission, Baroness Stowell, will step down from the role in February. 

Stowell told The Telegraph that she will not seek a second term at the end of her three-year period.

She said: “It is a huge privilege to be chair of the Charity Commission, I will say that, and certainly between now and when I finish at the end of February I am going to keep on the mission that I have been on since I arrived.”

She added that her approach “has taken root in the organisation and whoever follows me is going to need to continue”.

Stowell said: “I have been quite challenging of the charity sector, and I make no apology for that, because I care very much about all that it achieves.”

Commission has contacted the National Trust 

The Commission chair said she has also been in contact with the National Trust about public concerns over its work detailing links to colonialism and slavery.  

Stowell said the National Trust has a very “clear, simple purpose which is about preserving historic places and places of great beauty and national treasure”.

The Trust’s objects on the Commission's website are: “To look after places of historic interest or natural beauty permanently for the benefit of the nation across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Stowell said “I am not going to get into the conversation that we are having”, but said the Commission was putting questions to the National Trust.

“It does not surprise me that it is getting the attention it does. Indeed we at the Commission are in contact with the National Trust. It is our job at the Commission to raise the questions that people have,” she added.

She added that charities should not take for granted their support even if they have existed for a long time.

Hilary McGrady, director general of the National Trust, tweeted in response to these comments.

She wrote: “As @telegraph itself reports, we are not facing an inquiry. Our purpose remains as it always was – to care for nature beauty and history, for everyone forever. If researching the history of National Trust places is wrong, then we’ve been doing something wrong for 125 years.”

In a statement, the Trust added: “The Telegraph itself reported, under a misleading headline, that there is no expectation of a formal inquiry. The story came about as the result of a Telegraph podcast interview with the Chair of the Charity Commission, who was asked about our recent research into links between National Trust places and colonial history.

“We have always researched the history of our places and doing so informs how we care for and present them. As is expected of all charities, the National Trust reports to the Charity Commission on any significant issues affecting our work, and we have kept them informed about the colonial history report we published in September, and some of the complaints we received from people who disagreed with our publishing it.

“We always answer any questions the Commission has with full transparency.”

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