The Brighton Mosque & Muslim Community Centre was registered with the Charity Commission on 23 April 2007. The charity’s objects are for promoting and preserving the Islamic way of life following guidelines according to the Quran and Sunnah, specifically to service the Muslim community in Brighton and Hove by providing proper facilities for congregational prayers and an education program.
On 3 August 2022, the Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity following an official warning being issued in May 2022 after a former trustee was convicted of encouraging terrorism in a speech given at the charity’s premises. The inquiry was opened due to regulatory concerns that arose following the failure of trustees to resolve a dispute which was having a detrimental impact on the charity’s governance and administration.
On 28 September 2022, an Interim Manager was appointed to take charge of the charity’s management and operation. The Interim Manager also has the power to identify and appoint new trustees.
Facts and issues
Former trustee Mr Deghayes was convicted of terrorism offences following a speech he made at the charity’s premises encouraging people to participate in violent jihad. At least one trustee was present for this speech, along with approximately 50 other people.
The Commission’s concerns, as set out in the official warning, were that (a) the trustee(s) present at the time of the speech did not intervene and took no action to minimise the impact of the speech and (b) all the trustees knew or ought to have known (from previous issues) that Mr Deghayes presented a risk to the charity. Despite their knowledge, prior to the issuing of the official warning, of the risk presented by Mr Deghayes, the trustees failed to put in place sufficient processes to protect both the charity and its beneficiaries and as a result the charity was used to facilitate a terrorism offence. This is evidence of misconduct / mismanagement on the part of the trustees.
In addition, there have been ongoing issues among the trustees about control of the charity’s administration and management, which have also had an impact on financial management. The charity has submitted its statutory annual returns late for its past four financial periods, and the Commission is concerned about the impact of the trustee dispute on the charity’s ability to operate properly and in the best interests of its beneficiaries.
Details of the inquiry
The inquiry will examine the administration, governance and management of the charity. In particular it will be looking into:
- Whether the trustees have been appointed (and removed) in accordance with the charity’s governing document in the period since autumn 2021;
- Whether there is an accurate and clear understanding at the charity about who its members are (including ensuring that members are notified / consulted about relevant events);
- Whether the trustees have learnt from the issues resulting in the official warning and are able to further the charity’s objects “in an appropriate manner”; and
- Whether the charity’s income and expenditure has been properly accounted for and whether charity funds have been used to carry out activities that exclusively furthered a charitable purpose.
For full details of the ongoing inquiry, see here.