Yorkshire charity's YouTube channel hosts video of election candidate

30 Jun 2021 News

George Galloway, election candidate, outside Purpose of Life

A Yorkshire charity faces questions from the Charity Commission after hosting a video featuring a political candidate on its YouTube Channel in the run up to a parliamentary by-election.

George Galloway, who is standing in tomorrow's parliamentary by-election in Batley and Spen as the candidate for the Workers Party of Great Britain, appeared in a video shot outside the charity's headquarters in the constituency.

In the video, which was posted after the election campaign started, Galloway praised the work of the charity’s food bank but also spoke about the local Labour party.

The Charity Commission's guidance on charity campaigning during elections says that “charities should be especially wary of associating or becoming associated in the minds of the public, with a particular candidate or political party”. 

Purpose of Life did not respond when asked whether it had invited other candidates in the by-election to help with its work or produce similar videos.

The video was made private this morning and replaced with a shorter, edited version with the campaigning content removed, after Civil Society News made contact with the charity and the Commission.

Regulator: Our guidance is clear

A Commission spokesperson said: “Our guidance makes clear our expectations for all charities around campaigning, including working with politicians, and this is especially important during elections. 

“We are continuing to engage with the trustees of Purpose of Life, which will include this issue.” 

Past regulator involvement

The Charity Commission first contacted Purpose of Life’s trustees in March to discuss its conduct when the charity published a letter naming a local teacher who had been accused of showing a picture of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson.

Purpose of Life said that showing the picture was “insulting” and that it would not work with the school while the teacher was employed there. It later deleted the letter from its social media and apologised for naming the teacher. 

George Galloway’s own charity, Viva Palestina, was criticised by the Charity Commission in 2019 when a statutory inquiry concluded there was “no evidence of charitable activity”.  

Jo Cox Foundation donation

In a separate development, the Jewish Chronicle reported this morning that Purpose of Life received a £1,000 grant from the Jo Cox Foundation in the same month that it published its letter about the school.

The Foundation was established in memory of the former Labour MP for Batley and Spen, who was murdered in 2016. Jo Cox's sister, Kim Leadbetter, is now the Labour candidate.

The Jo Cox Foundation told the Jewish Chronicle that the grant, for work undertaken during the Covid-19 crisis, was made before the blasphemy row erupted.

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