Fundraising Regulator's review of charity bag drops criticised

26 February 2020 | Applicable law: England and Wales

The Fundraising Regulator has published revised findings in an investigation, following criticism by an independent review.

In October 2018, the regulator received a complaint that the Recycling Clothes Company had delivered charity bags on behalf of Against Breast Cancer to a street that is on the "Do Not Disturb" list. The recycling company denied that they had delivered the bag on the alleged date.

In January 2019, the regulator took the decision to uphold the complaint against the recycling company and the charity. Accordingly, the charity requested an external review of the decision and in June 2019 it was referred to an external reviewer, John Wigmore. According to the external review, the charity felt that "The FR's approach to evidence gathering in this and other cases has been one-sided and insufficient" and that there had been "a presumption of guilt" adopted by the Fundraising Regulator.

The external review states that "an adverse regulatory finding is significant for a charity and should be founded on firm, and if necessary tested, evidence." The reviewer found that the member of the public's accounts of when the bags were dropped were "rather vague" and the regulator had placed too much weight on this evidence.

The reviewer's recommendations were that someone from the Fundraising Regulator who was not involved in the original investigation should review the decision, and that the Fundraising Regulator should conduct a review of its handling of contested evidence.

Following the review, the regulator revised its decision, saying it was unable to reach a finding on whether the charity bags had been delivered on the alleged date. However, the updated decision did find that the charity had failed to investigate the complaint thoroughly.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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