Charity Commission apologises for retweeting a post about Boris Johnson

06 Dec 2019 News

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The Charity Commission has apologised after its Twitter account retweeted a post referring to the prime minister Boris Johnson and Hungarian politician Viktor Orban.

Its apology said: “We're sorry about a tweet we mistakenly RT'd this morning. This was caused by a technical issue in the system we use for monitoring social media. We deleted the tweet as soon as we became aware of it & will be following up on our systems to make sure it doesn't happen again.”

The Commission had been tagged in a tweet by The Jewish Chronicle, which included a picture of its front page. 

The paper had published a front-page article on Johnson speaking about Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to antisemitism in the Labour Party alongside a separate story about the Commission looking into allegations of political bias at a synagogue event with Conservative candidate, Mike Freer.

The Commission's Twitter account retweeted a reply to The Jewish Chronicle’s post by a pro-Corbyn account, @ptfn, which describes itself as “your white cishet middle class socialist dad”. The reply quoted a tweet from Johnson’s account in 2018, congratulating Hungarian politician Viktor Orban. Orban has previously been accused of antisemitism.

Johnson’s tweet had read: “Congratulations to Fidesz and Viktor Orban on winning the elections in Hungary. We look forward to working with our Hungarian friends to further develop our close partnership. #UKandHungary.”

The regulator has said that the retweet was only up for a couple of minutes before it was spotted and immediately removed. It added: “We’ll consider if this needs to be reported elsewhere.”

The Commission has previously reminded charities about the importance of political neutrality during the election period. It wrote to charity trustees about their responsibilities during a general election campaign: “It is legitimate and healthy for charities to speak up for the causes they serve. But appearing to take a political position on either side could risk undermining public confidence in charity as something special.”

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