Charity Commission opens inquiry into Galloway charity

30 Jul 2013 News

Viva Palestina, a charity founded by MP George Galloway in 2009, is the subject of a new statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission.

George Galloway MP

Viva Palestina, a charity founded by MP George Galloway in 2009, is the subject of a new statutory inquiry by the Charity Commission.

The charity, which supports people in Palestine, has never filed financial accounts to the Charity Commission.

Viva Palestina was formed in 2009 after the Charity Commission told Galloway that a fundraising appeal for aid in Gaza he was running had to be registered as a charity. At the time, the Charity Commission also opened an inquiry into the Mariam Appeal following concerns over the financial governance of £1m it had raised. It was cleared of having links to the ruling party in Gaza, Hamas, but was criticised for its governance.

In a statement to civilsociety.co.uk, the Charity Commission said it has opened a statutory inquiry into Viva Palestina, and one of the regulatory issues to be examined by the inquiry is its overdue accounts. Viva Palestina is nearly 900 days overdue in filing accounts with the Charity Commission since 2010. 

Last year, civilsociety.co.uk spoke to the charity’s then-director Kevin Ovendon, who said that the Charity Commission was to blame for its delay in submitting accounts.

George Galloway no longer has formal connections to Viva Palestina, though Ovendon said he often speaks at fundraising events on behalf of the charity.

Galloway accused the Charity Commission of political bias when it launched its inquiry into the Mariam Appeal three years ago.

Viva Palestina's website has not been updated since 2011, and all telephone numbers on its site are no longer in service. 

Civilsociety.co.uk was unable to contact anyone at Viva Palestina for comment. 

Galloway is Respect MP for Bradford West.

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