'Significant improvements' at Islamic Relief after antisemitism scandals, says regulator

21 Jan 2021 News

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) has made “significant improvements” to its recruitment policy, according to the Charity Commission.

The regulator opened a compliance case last summer, when a trustee was found to have posted antisemitic content on his social media before he joined IRW. After the inquiry opened, it was discovered that two more senior figures at the charity had also posted antisemitic material before joining the charity.

All three left IRW after the discovery.

Commission ‘still considering’ actions of individuals 

The Charity Commission has concluded its work looking at how IRW handled the revelations.

However, it is still considering the need for any further action to address why individuals did not tell the charity about their social media activity before they joined. All three individuals have apologised and are cooperating with the Commission.
IRW said that it fully accepts the inquiry’s findings, and said that senior staff and trustees have attended antisemitism-awareness training. A spokesperson confirmed that all staff will receive diversity and inclusivity training.

Commission 'satisfied' by progress

The Charity Commission said in a statement that it had reviewed IRW’s response to the antisemitic postings by trustees and was “satisfied that it took swift action, including to condemn the comments and ensure all three individuals left their roles, which the individuals did of their own accord. 

“None has any ongoing involvement with the charity”.

It added that “the Commission has overseen significant improvements to the recruitment and oversight of trustees and senior staff at the charity” and said that representatives from the regulator had “met with the new board and is satisfied that it is making the necessary improvements in terms of the vetting of trustees, and ongoing oversight over their social media activities”. 

A separate, independent commission into the way IRW handled the situation, chaired by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, is expected to report its findings later this month.

Training for staff

IRW said it had taken “extensive action to improve its policies and processes concerning the selection and conduct of senior executives and trustees”.

Ihab Saad, the chair of IRW, said: “The actions of these three individuals fell far short of the standards that we expect from our organisation. 

“Their comments were deeply offensive and in clear violation of our core values and beliefs. Antisemitism and all other forms of discrimination will never be tolerated or have any place in IRW. 

“We are determined to do all in our power to make sure this kind of misconduct does not happen again, and we accept and appreciate the clear guidance of the Charity Commission.

“We are already implementing a number of actions and it will continue to be a top priority for us to take them forward. 

“We have set up an independent commission to review and strengthen our screening processes, which will deliver its findings this month. Trustees and senior staff have attended antisemitism awareness training, which will be rolled out to other staff this year. 

“We have also developed an extensive new personal social media policy to make clear to all staff and trustees their obligations under the law and our values to conduct themselves appropriately online.”

Offensive content

Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: “The posts made by a number of now former senior leaders within IRW on social media were clearly offensive, and risked damaging public trust in IRW and charities more generally.

“There is no place for antisemitism or any other form of racism in charity, which is a precious national asset, that we must work together to protect and promote. 

“We welcome the improvements the charity has made to its governance so far and will continue to monitor its progress.”

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