Regulator assessing concerns over Campaign Against Antisemitism petition

30 Aug 2018 News

The Charity Commission has said it is assessing concerns raised about the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s campaigning activities.

Concerns have been raised since the CAA’s inception in 2015 about its campaigning activities, which this year included an online petition calling for the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to be replaced.

The petition, titled “Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite and must go”, has so far received almost 35,000 signatures. It calls on Labour MPs to either propose a challenger to Corbyn’s leadership or initiate a vote of no confidence.

A note has been added to the top of the change.org petition saying: “We have received flags from our users that the facts in this petition may be contested. You should consider researching this issue before signing or sharing”.

Meanwhile, another petition titled “To Get the Charity Commission to Deregister the Zionist Campaign Against Anti-Semitism” has been sent to the regulator after receiving almost 7,500 signatures.

The petition argues that “the fact that the CAA is officially a registered charity is outrageous”. It accuses the CAA of providing no public benefit and says its activities are not charitable.

According to Charity Commission database, the CAA is “a volunteer-led charity dedicated to exposing and countering antisemitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law”.

The CAA was registered as a charitable incorporated organisation in October 2015. It had an income of £97,000 in its accounts for the year ending December 2016.

Commission 'aware of concerns'

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “We are aware of concerns about a petition launched by the charity and are assessing these concerns against our guidance on campaigning and political activity by charities and our wider risk and regulatory framework.”

She added: “Charities are permitted to campaign and engage in political activity to further their charitable purposes.

“Indeed such activity can be a valuable way for a charity to achieve its charitable aims. However, a charity must always guard its independence, and ensure it remains independent, neutral and balanced in any engagement with or activities involving political parties.

“Our guidance on campaigning and political activity by charities explains what is expected of trustees in this area and it is against this guidance and the wider legal framework that we will be assessing concerns raised about the CAA.”

A spokeswoman for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “The Charity Commission regularly receives complaints against us, most of which appear to be made by antisemites who object to our work.

"We take all complaints seriously, as does the Commission, and in all cases to date the Commission has found that we run our charity properly, for the public benefit.

"Sadly there is nothing unusual about the latest attempt to organise mass complaints to the Commission.

"If the Commission has any questions, as usual we will work with them to provide any information they require in order to satisfy their regulatory duty.”

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