Charity threatens Fundraising Regulator with legal action over 'bullying'

28 Jun 2018 News

A collection bag issued by Recycle Proline on behalf of Cancer Research and Genetics

The director of Cancer Research and Genetics UK has threatened the Fundraising Regulator with legal action over its attempts to name and shame him. 

Nick Phillips, founder and director of Cancer Research and Genetics UK told Civil Society News that he was exploring legal options against the Fundraising Regulator, after it “threatened“ his charity and “bullied” him. 

Phillips said he received a letter from an employee of the Fundraising Regulator in which it threatened to “drag” him and his organisation in front of the Advertising Standards Authority, as part of an ongoing issue around his charity’s use of Recycle Proline Ltd, a charity bag collection company.

Phillips, who lost his wife to cancer and suffers from it himself, says he has contacted a solicitor in Cardiff to seek legal advice. He said the Fundraising Regulator is threatening to name and shame him and his charity if he does not either stop using Recycle Proline, or go and monitor collections himself. 

“The Fundraising Regulator decided right away to escalate the complaints to a full-scale investigation. They sent me a letter. This letter was very threatening – they threatened to drag us in front of the Charity Commission and the ASA. 

“I’m a cancer patient myself and they’ve asked me to go and monitor the collections. I can’t do that. It’s totally unreasonable. They also gave us timescales, telling me to reply to this letter within five days. It’s completely unreasonable and demanding.” 

'Who regulates the regulator?'

He also said that an employee of the Fundraising Regulator “questioned my ability to even run a charity”. 

“I’m just not happy with them and the way they’ve conducted themselves,” he said. “Who is it that regulates the regulator? That’s what I want to know.”

A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said: “The Fundraising Regulator does not comment on investigations before they have concluded, and before the parties have had the opportunity to review a draft decision for factual accuracy. 

“Investigations are focused on identifying breaches of the Code of Fundraising Practice and advising on options for redress if necessary but, above all, for learning and better practice in future”.

Regulator investigating since 2016

The Fundraising Regulator has been investigating Cancer Research and Genetics UK and its relationship with Recycle Proline Ltd since 2016, after it recieved a number of complaints from the public.

The regulator referred the complaints to the ASA, which subsequently ordered Recycle Proline to “ensure its adverts clarified that it was a commercial organisation” and to specify that “not all profits from donating clothes would go directly to the charity”. 

Recycle Proline has an arrangement with Cancer Research and Genetics whereby it pays the charity £3,200 a month regardless of the amount of clothing it collects using the branded collection bags. The company sells the used clothes on to rag merchants overseas. 

Phillips said that his charity has worked with Recycle Proline for “six or seven years” and said they collect clothes on his charity’s behalf across the country. He claims that Recycle Proline operate with the charity’s full permission to use its branding. 

Recycle Proline

This is not the first time that Recycle Proline has been at the centre of a Fundraising Regulator investigation. 

In May of this year, the Children’s Hope Foundation, a Yorkshire-based charity was reported to the Fundraising Regulator after Recycle Proline delivered collection bags on its behalf without a license. 

A spokesperson for the Richmondshire District Council told Civil Society News that not only did Recycle Proline not have a license to collect in the region on behalf of Children’s Hope Foundation, it also did not have a license to collect in the same area on behalf of Cancer Research and Genetics UK. 

The company was caught distributing charity collection bags without a license in Runnymede. Recycle Proline later applied for a license, an application which Runnymede Borough Council rejected. 

Recycle Proline Ltd has been contacted for a comment. 

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