Regulator engages with RSPB after controversial social media post

04 Sep 2023 News

Infographic from RSPB's X post criticising government environment policy

The Charity Commission has said it is engaging with trustees at RSPB after the charity apologised for a social media post that called several government ministers “liars”. 

RSPB reported itself to the Commission over the post, published on 30 August, which criticised prime minister Rishi Sunak, housing secretary Michael Gove and environmental secretary Therese Coffey over their environmental policies.

The charity publicly apologised for the X post last week, after being criticised by some social media users, including trustee Ben Caldecott.

Chief executive Beccy Speight also told the Today programme: “The framing of that tweet, where we called out individual people, we felt was incorrect and inappropriate, and we apologise for that.”

However, at time of writing, RSPB has not deleted the original post.

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We note that the charity has issued a corrective apology and are engaging with the trustees on this matter.”

Neither the Charity Commission nor RSPB would confirm whether the charity had made a serious incident report.

Charity infrastructure bodies write to the Telegraph

Meanwhile, chief executive of ACEVO, Jane Ide, and chief executive of NCVO, Sarah Vibert, have written to the Telegraph about charities’ right to campaign.

Their letter responds to home secretary Suella Braverman’s recent description of some charities and civil society groups comprising “politically motivated activists masquerading as humanitarians”.

The joint letter reads: “It is clearly laid out within regulations that campaigning and political activity are legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake, and it is a legal requirement that political campaigning or political activity must be undertaken by a charity only in the context of supporting the delivery of its charitable purposes.”

Governance & Leadership is partnering with Sheila McKechnie Foundation in a survey of trustees’ attitudes on charity CEOs speaking out, and on broader attitudes to charity campaigning. Click here to complete the survey.

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