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Repeal the Charities Act 2006 in its entirety

Comment 9th July 2010

This nefarious Act gave the Charity Commission supra-legal powers which are contrary to natural justice, contrary to 1000 years of British justice, and which are in defiance of human rights. The Act gives the Commission the power to intercept communications, enter and search without a warrant, seize without need to justify, and carry out investigations on a 'guilty until proven innocent' basis by using an inquisitorial process where evidence of accusations does not need to be produced. (Freedom of Information requests for documents explaining accusations can be declined by non-qualified legal advisors working for the Commission who have no experience in dealing with such matters.) The investigatory processes of the Charity Commission can easily be hijacked in private causes by anyone with enough money to pay an expensive charity lawyer to put together a dossier of complaint. There is no need for the complaints to be true, they can be made up as part of a smear campaign or business or personal vendetta. As long as the dossier is professionally compiled and the lawyer accepts what his client tells him and uncritically repeats it without any attempt at verification, the Charity Commission will generally launch an investigation. If you hate somebody and discover that he or she is a trustee of a registered charity, and are prepared to pay a lawyer, you can launch a vendetta against that person and it will be carried on for you by public funds.  Employees at the Commission will persecute the person for you and will even send you progress reports. In this way the Commission has become a vehicle for anonymous tipoffs –  a process which is open to abuse. This 2006 Act goes against everything that a civilised society is supposed to stand for. The Charity Commission is in effect accountable only to itself. It is apparently accountable to 'the Office of the Third Sector' at 10 Downing Street, which presunably exercises no effective oversight. This is wholly non-democratic. I would like to urge the Coalition Government to repeal the Charities Act 2006 as a matter of urgency.

Why does this matter?

It is essential to repeal anti-democratic and oppressive Acts such as this, and to restitute the principles of justice. Inquisitorial investigative processes have no place in our society, and 'guilty until proven innocent' should never be accepted anywhere as a means of enquiry. Quangos like the Charity Commission need to be made accountable and not allowed to rampage around out of control as they have been. All of their excesses need to be reigned in, and the way to do this is to begin by repealing this Act.

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