UK Charity Commission closes its case into The Runnymede Trust

Article 25 November 2021 Experience: Charities and non-profit

The Charity Commission opened a regulatory case into the activity of The Runnymede Trust, after having received complaints about the charity’s response to the report by the ‘Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ (CRED). The complaints centred on whether the charity was engaging in lawful political activity.

The Runnymede Trust is a charitable think tank founded in 1968, with a focus on racial equality and social justice. It expressed significant concerns about the CRED report following its publication, for which it was criticised in the House of Commons. 20 Conservative MPs wrote to the Commission requesting that it pursue regulatory action against the charity. On 9 April 2021, the Charity Commission opened a case to assess the concerns raised about the charity’s response to the CRED report and also its work with Good Law Project.

The Commission examined whether the trustees of Runnymede had acted in accordance with their legal duties and responsibilities and whether the charity had been engaging in unlawful political activity. It found that it was within the charity’s purposes to respond to the CRED report and that the trustees had not breached their duties in deciding to work with the Good Law Project. It also reiterated that charities are permitted in law to campaign and take positions not everyone agrees with, as long as it is in furtherance of the charity’s purposes.

This follows the decision by the Commission earlier in the year to close the compliance case into the National Trust with no further action, as it had not acted outside its charitable purposes when publishing a report into the links between some of its properties and slavery.

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