01 July 2014

Charity Commission investigates two Jehovah’s Witnesses charities


Chris Priestley
Partner | UK

The Commission first opened a regulatory compliance investigation into Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain in July 2013. The Commission is now examining:

  • the charity’s handling of safeguarding matters, including the creation, development, substance and implementation of its safeguarding policy;
  •  the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees and whether or not the trustees of the charity have complied with and fulfilled their duties under charity law; and
  •  the charity’s safeguarding advice provided to congregation charities.

The charity has a safeguarding policy in place. However, in light of recent criminal cases involving historic incidents of abuse by individuals connected with the organisation, the Commission has opened a formal inquiry to assure itself about the charity’s policy, procedures and practices.

In relation to the New Moston congregation, the Commission is also examining how the charity dealt with the risks to the charity and its beneficiaries, including the application of safeguarding policy and procedures, particularly as regards the conviction and release of a former trustee who was jailed for abusing two women when they were young girls.

Both charities reportedly intend to challenge the Commission’s decision to open inquiries at the Charity Tribunal.

While the Commission has acknowledged that it is not a safeguarding authority and will not investigate allegations of abuse, it is concerned with the regulation of charities which includes ensuring that any charity engaged with children or vulnerable people:

a) has in place adequate safeguarding policies and procedures which reflect the law and best practice;

b) that trustees know what their responsibilities are; and

c) that these policies are fully implemented.
 

Chris Priestley Partner | London

Category: Article