Tory attack on Runnymede Trust over race report fails

Over a dozen Conservative Party MPs wrote to the Charity Commission last year demanding it launch an investigation into the think tank over its criticism of a government race report.

The Charity Commission has ruled that the Runnymede Trust, one of the country’s leading race equality think tanks, did not breach charity guidance, after a group of Tory MPs accused it of pursuing a ‘political agenda’.

Over a dozen Conservative Party MPs wrote to the Charity Commission last year demanding it launch an investigation into the think tank over its criticism of a government race report.

The Runnymede trust had criticized the Sewell report into racial disparities in the UK, which concluded that while racism and racial injustice still existed in British society, factors such as geography, family influence, socio-economic background and culture, have a greater impact on life chances.

The trust said that it felt let down by the report, with its chief executive, Dr Halima Begum saying at the time that the government ‘did not have the confidence of black and minority ethnic communities’.

She also added: “Institutionally, we are still racist, and for a government-appointed commission to look into (institutional) racism, to deny its existence is deeply, deeply worrying.”

The Charity Commission ruled that the trust did not breach charity guidelines. Helen Earner, Director of Regulatory Services at the Charity Commission, said: “We take all concerns raised with us about charities seriously – whether they come from members of the public, parliamentarians, or the media. We treat all complaints with respect and assess them impartially and expertly against the legal framework. That is what the public expects.

“In this case, we have found no breach of our guidance. However, we have told the trustees of the Runnymede Trust that they must ensure the charity’s engagement with political parties and politicians is balanced.

“It is not for us as regulator to tell trustees how best to further their charity’s purposes. Charities are free to take up positions that are controversial, if the trustees come to a reasoned decision that doing so furthers the charity’s cause.”

The Commission also said that the trustees did not breach their legal duties and responsibilities when they made the decision to work with the Good Law Project.

Sir Clive Jones CBE, chair of the Runnymede Trust, said: “The Runnymede Trust’s commitment to equality in all its forms has been steadfast since 1968, and we will not waver. We will continue our endeavours with care and compassion, making room for all voices, and working to build bridges in those inevitable instances of disagreement. We would like to thank the countless people across the country who have supported our work, as well as our CEO and staff for their courage and dedication.”

Reacting to the findings, Labour MP Marsha de Cordova said Tory MPs were wrong to accuse the Runnymede Trust of pursuing a political agenda and hoped that the decision would ‘put an end to them making vexatious complaints in the future’.

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

Comments are closed.