Charity Commission faces review over CAGE funding pull

Lord Justice Burnett
Lord Justice Burnett

The Charity Commission will face a judicial review of its decision to pressure charities to dissociate themselves from an advocacy group because the group said UK intelligence agencies contributed to radicalisation of Muslims.

Lord Justice Burnett, who heard the application for review in the High Court in London yesterday morning, said it could go ahead. The commission is accused of overstepping its powers by asking two charities to withdraw their funding for CAGE.

Dr Adnan Siddiqui, director of CAGE, said: “We are pleased by today’s decision.

“The rule of law remains an ideal worth striving for in the interests of good government and peace at home and abroad.

“The Charity Commission’s actions against CAGE have sent a chill through the charity sector, and this is a welcome step in the right direction for all members of civil society.”

CAGE, which is not a charity, describes itself as an “independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror”.

Its mission statement says it aims to “highlight and campaign against state policies developed as part of the War on Terror”.

In March, the organisation revealed it had previously been in regular contact with Mohammed Emwazi, a British citizen who had been implicated in the execution of Western hostages in war-torn Syria.

CAGE attacked British counter-terrorism policies while seeking to offer “an explanation” for how Emwazi became radicalised, and said Emwazi contacted them in 2010 because he felt increasingly harassed by British security services.

The Charity Commission subsequently pressured two charities - the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) and the Roddick Foundation - to withdraw financial support for CAGE, which they argue was done outwith the regulator’s powers under the Charity Act 2011.

The JRCT issued a statement directly citing “regulatory pressure” as a reason it would “not fund CAGE either now or in the future”.

The commission claimed that failing to restrict charity funding for CAGE “risked damaging public trust and confidence in charity”.

Zoe Nicola, the solicitor representing CAGE, said: “We are grateful to the court for granting permission to pursue the judicial review against the Charity Commission, on the basis that there was an arguable case that they acted beyond their statutory powers in seeking assurances that, in essence, prevented the provision of future charitable funding to CAGE.”

Share icon
Share this article: