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Military charity ordered to close after selling offensive merchandise

04 Sep 2018 News

The Charity Commission has ordered the closure of the a military charity which had been selling t-shirts with anti-Islamic slogans in its shops.  

The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into 1st Knight Military Charity in November 2016 after an undercover BBC Scotland report showed a shop run by the charity selling t-shirts with anti-Islamic slogans.

Today the regulator published a report about its inquiry which says the Commission ordered the charity, which aimed to assist members of the armed forces and their dependents or carers, to wind up operations and it has now done so.

The inquiry concluded that there was misconduct in relation to offensive material available for sale at the charity’s premises and offensive comments made by a trustee and volunteer recorded as part of the programme.

The Commission’s report emphasises that a second trustee present at the time of the undercover recording failed to intervene or challenge the comments made.

It also says the offensive merchandise was ordered on more than one occasion, and the trustees did not seek to return or dispose of the stock.

The report says further t-shirts depicting Nazi symbolism were advertised for sale on the charity’s online store.

Investigators carried out an unannounced visit to the charity’s premises and found that the relevant materials from the BBC recording had been removed, however offensive and inappropriate merchandise was still displayed on the charity’s online store in February 2017.

Wider concerns 

The inquiry also found wider concerns about the charity’s management and governance, including its provision of respite breaks for beneficiaries to bed and breakfast accommodation in Spain.

The Commission issued an order in December 2017 to direct the trustees to wind up and dissolve the charity, in the public interest and because it was unlikely that the charity could continue to operate beyond the end of the inquiry.

The trustees complied with this order on March 2018 and the charity was dissolved and removed from the register.

The charity’s remaining £2,061.88 funds were transferred to another charity, identified by the Commission, which similarly provides support to wounded veterans and their loved ones.

Michelle Russell, the Commission’s director of investigations, monitoring and enforcement, said: “The public rightly expect charities to demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and conduct.

“What we saw in this case fell short of that: not only was this charity mismanaged, we also saw evidence of behaviours and attitudes that have no place in charity.

“The organisation has now wound up, and I am pleased that we have ensured its assets are redistributed by another charity.”

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