Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian have revealed contact between the Charity Commission and the IEA – who wrote the report which has inspired the new anti-advocacy clause. Responding to this, Sir Stephen Bubb, said;
‘Charity leaders, workers and volunteers will be shocked and alarmed by these revelations. The NCVO’s Sir Stuart Etherington described the anti-advocacy clause as ‘crazy.’ I agree with him. Yet it is clear that charity commission board members, directed by the chair, William Shawcross, have been active and complicit in creating it alongside the Institute for Economic Affairs. Only those who are indifferent to or ignorant of the harm it will cause could have constructed such a measure; that this group appears to include those at the top of the charities regulator is a serious cause for concern.
‘We urge Gwythian Prins and William Shawcross’ to clarify their roles and their positions on the harmful anti-advocacy clause as a matter of urgency – or risk having trust in the commission be irreparably damaged.
‘The redacted communications released under the FoI request clearly show William Shawcross directing Gwythian Prins to speak to Christopher Snowden IEA – and that Prins and the IEA had one on one meetings prior to the publication of the IEA report that resulted in the anti advocacy clause. This raises a number of questions which must be answered immediately. First, why did Mr Shawcross direct Mr Prins to engage with this particular think tank individually? Secondly, what was the content of the conversation between Gwythian Prins and Christopher Snowden? And finally, what is the position now held by William Shawcross and Gwythian Prins regarding the anti-advocacy clause?
‘To be either indifferent to or ignorant of the harm this clause is already causing, and the self-censorship it is already engendering, would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the regulator’s highest officers. Charity leaders, volunteers and workers deserve answers.’