We have now heard back from the new Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries. Her predecessor demanded charities “rebalance” away from what he childishly called their “woke” agenda. And said he wouldn’t appoint a new Chair of the Charity Commission – which regulates charities – unless they agreed.
We think this is unlawful and have threatened to sue. We think it will cause enormous harm to charities if Government uses them as pawns in its culture war.
Remarkably Government has now backtracked – and claims it didn’t issue any instructions to the panel appointing the Chair. Square that, if you can, with what the Culture Secretary wrote on the Government’s website:
“I have instructed those leading the search to ensure that the new leader of the Commission will restore charities’ focus to their central purpose and empower Trustees to be robust”.
This is yet another example of this Government’s shameless attempts to install its allies at the top of our public institutions. Government is already pushing hard to appoint former Daily Mail Editor, Paul Dacre, as the chair of Ofcom, despite the fact the first recruitment process found he was ‘unappointable’ because of anti-BBC views. Rather than accept that finding, the Government scrapped the recruitment process and is re-running it, which would allow the former editor of the Daily Mail to be interviewed again by a different panel.
We’re asking Ministers to come clean and hand over all communications between the Culture Secretary and the interview panel.
The case isn’t straightforward but the issues are important. If regulators aren’t neutral they can’t regulate – and this feels like the thin end of a very dangerous wedge.
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