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Interim manager appointed to charity that funded TV channel accused of hate speech

16 Sep 2020 News

The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to Islamic Research Foundation International, as part of an inquiry addressing “serious concerns” about the charity’s governance.

The regulator opened a statutory inquiry into the charity earlier this year, focused on concerns about the its funding of Peace TV, a television channel which no longer has a license to broadcast in the UK after breaching Ofcom rules on hate speech.

Over £1m to Peace TV in two years

The Charity Commission had previously contacted the charity in 2016 and 2019 about its governance, before opening the current inquiry.

Ofcom moved to suspend Peace TV Urdu’s license in November 2019 after complaints that some of its programmes contained homophobic and antisemitic hate speech. That license, as well as that of Peace TV, were surrendered, and as a result neither channel broadcasts in the UK.

According to its most recent filings with Companies House, Islamic Research Foundation International gave more than £1m to Universal Broadcasting Corporation Ltd during 2018 and 2019. The broadcast licence for Peace TV is owned by a subsidiary of UBCL.

Concerns about misconduct or mismanagement

Interim managers are appointed as a “protective measure” when the regulator has identified misconduct or mismanagement, or where it feels that a charity’s property must be protected, according to a statement.

The charity’s new manager, Virginia Henley from the legal firm Hewitsons, was appointed in July. She will not be answerable to the board of trustees, and her role will include considering whether the charity has a viable future.

Potential conflicts of interest

The Charity Commission inquiry is ongoing.

The regulator has also raised concerns about whether charity’s board was willing or able to “appropriately adapt” to the issues raised by Ofcom breaches, and whether the crossover between its trustees and directors of the Peace TV license represented a conflict of interest.

The inquiry is looking at how trustees plan to use funds which have not been used to fund Peace TV and whether trustees may be personally benefiting from the use of funds intended for charitable purposes.

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