Commission opens compliance case into NUS charity following antisemitism claims

06 Jun 2022 News

The Charity Commission has opened a compliance case into the charitable arm of the National Union of Students (NUS) following allegations of antisemitism. 

The NUS itself is not a charity but has a charitable arm called the NUS Students’ Union Charitable Services. 

Robert Halfon, chief of the education select committee, referred the NUS to the Commission on 11 April in a letter to former interim Charity Commission chair Ian Karet. 

He requested the Commission commence an inquiry into the charity “as a matter of urgency” due to allegations of antisemitism. 

A Charity Commission spokesperson told Civil Society News it has made no findings of wrongdoing at this time and is unable to comment any further.  

‘History of systemic antisemitism’

Halfon, who is also the Conservative MP for Harlow, wrote his letter in partnership with the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA). 

He claimed there is a “history of systemic antisemitism within the NUS [that] can be traced back decades.”

In his letter, Halfon took issue with how the NUS invited rapper Lowkey to its centenary event despite the performer having made allegedly antisemitic statements in the past.

A month later, the government announced it would be temporarily suspending its engagement with NUS over the allegations. The Department for Education has also confirmed it will not receive any government funding. 

NUS ‘proactively contacted Charity Commission’

Following Halfon’s referral letter, the NUS UK board met and instigated an independent investigation into allegations of antisemitism at the organisation. 

It will examine specific allegations of antisemitism. The investigation will be conducted by Rebecca Tuck QC, an employment and discrimination law specialist. NUS worked with the Union of Jewish Students to make the appointment. 

A spokesperson from the charity told Civil Society News: “We proactively contacted the Commission on 8 April to discuss how we should best keep them informed of the allegations surrounding NUSUK, which is a separate legal entity, and any action taken by NUSUK to address them.

“The Charity Commission have engaged with us, since 13 April, via the compliance visits and inspections team. We are still in the process of responding to any further questions the regulator may have and note their statement that they have 'made no finding of wrongdoing at this time'."

Charity Commission is engaging with trustees

A Charity Commission spokesperson told Civil Society News: “We have opened a compliance case into NUS Students’ Union Charitable Services in relation to the recent allegations made about the National Union of Students and the impact on the charity. We are engaging with the trustees and assessing all of the available information to inform any next steps.”

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