Regulator receives further complaint over its refusal to investigate think tank

21 May 2024 News


Campaigners have made a formal complaint to the Charity Commission over its recent refusal to investigate the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

In March, a group of MPs backed by the Good Law Project (GLP) made a formal complaint to the Commission and accused the IEA of having extremist views and being in breach of charity regulations around political campaigning.

However, the regulator swiftly decided against any formal action, which the IEA called “a clear victory for freedom of expression”.

Commission chair Orlando Fraser also said in March that a regulatory alert to think tanks issued in 2018 no longer stands.

Now, Scottish National Party MP Alyn Smith and Green Party politician Siân Berry have made another formal complaint over the Commission’s handling of GLP’s previous call to investigate the IEA.

‘Irrational’ decision not to investigate

The new complaint, also signed by former Commission board member Andrew Purkis and backed by the GLP, describes the decision not to investigate the IEA as “irrational” and requests that the regulator sends a “reasoned reconsideration” within 30 days.

“Evidence that the Institute of Economic Affairs has been acting outside its charitable purposes for years is so strong that we argue it’s irrational for the Charity Commission to conclude there is no cause for concern,” GLP wrote in a blog.

“We say the Commission also fails to take account of the institute’s poor regulatory history and offers no explanation for its confidence that the think-tank’s trustees will comply with their duties under charity law in the future.

“While we’re waiting to hear from the Commission, we’re already preparing the ground for legal action if we’re not satisfied they’ve met their obligations.

A spokesperson for the IEA said: “The Good Law Project is wrong about the facts and charity law.

“The Charity Commission concluded that the original vexatious complaint lacked merit. This latest action is a matter for the Charity Commission.”

A Commission spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have received a complaint, which we are considering.”

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