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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Under investigation

This morning's Guardian reveals that the Taxpayers' Alliance is under investigation by the Charity Commission after allegations that it may have used its charitable status to gain tax relief, normally reserved for good causes, on donations for political research:

The Charity Commission has stepped up its scrutiny of the campaign group's funding by opening a regulatory compliance case into the Politics and Economics Research Trust. Earlier this month it emerged that, in order to benefit from gift aid, the alliance asked private Midlands businessmen to channel funds through the trust for research into policies which may damage their commercial interests. Organisations may not be charitable if they have political purposes, according to commission guidelines.

"The scope of the investigation is to address the allegations relating to the charity's relationship with the Taxpayers' Alliance," a spokesman for the commission said. The regulator opens such cases when "available information indicates misconduct or mismanagement has occurred" and where trustees' actions "may have been improper".

The investigative powers invoked by the commission cover occasions where charity funds have been misapplied and irregular fundraising activity. Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, denies any wrongdoing.

Often in politics the fact that somebody or some organisation is 'under investigation' is taken as a sign of guilt, that is of course not the case. However, the outcome of this particular inquiry will be watched with interest.
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