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Fake charities nervous

The journalist William Shawcross has been appointed the next head of the Charities COmmission, replacing Dame Suzi Leather, the quango queen whose miraculous path to a position of power has been noted at BH in the past. (I think "miraculous" is the only way to describe a move from trainee probation officer to housewife to head of an NHS trust).

Shawcross seems to be a Conservative man, and according to this article on Third Sector Online, his appointment was challenged unsuccessfully by LibDems and Labour. No surprise there. What is interesting is his attitude to "fake charities" - those bodies who use charitable status to lobby for state funding. In the same interview, Shawcross was asked what he thought of this question:

Does he agree with [The Spectator's] analysis about charities’ anti-government stance? "I don’t know yet. But I think there is a very interesting discussion to be had about the way charities relate to government, and are increasingly dependent on governments of left, right and centre.

"Among members of the public who give generously to charity, it’s perhaps not widely understood how many charities have become, probably without any alternative, more dependent on government, and this should be aired and discussed. This country’s charitable history is wonderfully idiosyncratic, going back to the statute of Elizabeth – the whole common law history of charitable giving, the charitable accretion, has been remarkable.

"In that context, charities have always been independent and that independence is a very precious thing." Is it under threat? "I don’t know - I’m on a steep learning curve."

Today, in a new interview in the Telegraph, his ideas seem to have become better formed:

Charities should not become the junior partner in the welfare state; whether or not they provide services funded by Government or indeed receive grants from Government, they must remain independent and focused on their mission,” he said.

“My personal view is that some charities have become dependent on the state.

“And I think that most members of the public, when asked, would say a charity is an organisation funded from private donations, not public funds.

This all bodes well for improvement, but I doubt we will ever see a true separation of government and charities. That is, perhaps, too much to hope for.

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Reader Comments (56)

It is to be hoped that there is indeed a separation between Government and the 'charitable' sector.

However, I doubt very much it will happen. The fake charities provide a valuable smokescreen for those in Government who wish to implement unpopular policies.

These policies are championed by fake charities (such as ASH or Alcohol Concern) using cherry-picked and often faked statistics (sound familiar) until the Government legislates - which is what the Government wanted to do all along.

They've become very good at it and will fight tooth and nail to keep themselves on the gravy train - hence my cynicism.

Nov 30, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDominic Allkins

Frankly I'm amazed, rejection of Leveson and this, all on the same day. Dame Leather is moaning in the Guardian here:

Nov 30, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

Shawcross is a man I greatly respect but I doubt even now he'd like to called a Conservative with a large C. Two things immediately spring to mind about him. His father Hartley Shawcross was Chief British Prosecutor at Nuremberg. And Shawcross wrote a breakthrough book on the tragedy of Cambodia and south-east Asia, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the destruction of Cambodia, in 1979, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. But despite his scathing criticism of Kissinger and co, he never made the mistake, as Chomsky did, of underplaying the horrific nature of the Pol Pot regime. A true humanitarian and one of the few journalists I really respect. What a great choice to supervise UK charities.

Nov 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Some good news then, for once.

The following website includes a database of what they call fake charities

Nov 30, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I am right behind this guy about having an open discussion and revealing to the general public just what people like WWF and FOE do with their contributions.

Nov 30, 2012 at 2:36 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Welcome news that the question of fake charities is at least being raised.

The thing I find creepy about it the astroturfing aspect - an attempt to manipulate the impression that there's popular support for something on the assumption that charities are voluntary organisations, basically doing something numerous subscribers approve of sufficiently to support. Governments paying notionally independent bodies to tell them things they want to hear, but giving the impression it's independent and spontaneous.

If the charity receives substantial government funds, it's bound to change its emphasis to encourage more funds, corrupting the charity.

Nov 30, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

So has he been on a Common Purpose Team Building Day,
Paint Ball ,Flips Charts,Catching People Falling Backwards. Left trouser leg rolled up Etc Etc ?

I remember William Shawcross he was an old Vietnam war reporter.He could turn out okay.

So where is our (shes a hottie) Dame Suzi off too now ?
New £500k Chairperson of the New beefed up Levisonised PCC i bet.

Nov 30, 2012 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

"My personal view is that some charities have become dependent on the state"

Just change the word "some" to "most", and you'll be there.

Every time I look into a charity's background and connections, I never cease to be amazed at how many are sucking on the public teat, and are part of the "Third Sector"...

Nov 30, 2012 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

In Canada a bluster and shriek occurred this year when some charities were de-charitized because of their political activity. The David Suzuki Foundation was in particular attacked, such that David Suzuki resigned so that he could continue his political activities without the Foundation being held accountable. Of course he is still involved.

The move was very good, though. Charities hold two good functions within a nation. They provide services that are not convenient or practical for a government to provide due to their localized nature, and they provide services that are not politically acceptable to a large or regionally significant portion of the population, but still need to be provided for the overall health of the nation. Anti-addiction programs might be an example of the first and HIV prevention programs, an example of the other. Giving tax exemptions to them is a legitimate way the state can give support without becoming politically or culturally involved.

When a charity is dependent on state funding, however, it means that the public is either uninterested or generally interested. In the first case, the program is so locally relevant that no social group outside the individuals involved sees a wider concern. In the second, the program is so background to how a nation works that ordinary people see it as one of a natural state service. In both these cases the charity is no longer appropriate to be called such.

All things evolve. Bureaucracies are self-perpetuating. All, including government agencies, should be reviewed for dismissal regularly. It is said that all companies should weed out a portion of their staff every few years as deadwood builds up and motivations decline with time. Charities are just one part of how our nations operate that need regular review and culling. Not really a big deal, unless it is not done.

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Proctor

Common Purpose?

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Registered CommenterGrumpyDenier

What's the betting that although probably not entirely culpable, Noo Labore were at the bottom of many a charity takeover to promote its own long-term policy objectives between 1997 & 2010, but of course, being such a lumbering leviathon, the state will take a while to re-adjust the situation, with many fake charities doing some good work that will suffer & be high-lighted as being pursecuted by the Guvment? Just saying! My brother-in-law used to work for FWAG (or should that be SWAG) & he always insisted they were a charity organisation, but from the look of their website a few years back apparently receiving millions from National & Local guvment left-right-& centre, so to speak!!!!

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Doug Proctor: very helpful overview. Not for the first time of late I feel our government has been following Canada's. Plus we just poached Mark Carney to be Governor of the Bank of England. Who knows what pioneers like Essex, McKitrick and McIntyre may have kicked off?

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake


"So where is our (shes a hottie) Dame Suzi off too now ?
New £500k Chairperson of the New beefed up Levisonised PCC i bet."

She's off to the governing board of the GMC - no doubt on a wellpaid part-time basis therefore leaving some spare time to get involved in another quango.


Nov 30, 2012 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeviNUK

I've deleted AlecM and responses.

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Unfortunately Mark Carney's wife is an evangelical Green ^.^

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Bish, I'm fine by that.

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake


When a charity is dependent on state funding, however, it means that the public is either uninterested or generally interested.

I think it also often signals that the charity has expanded its role from that which it describes to the public. Sending large delegations to global environmental conferences is not cheap.

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Registered CommenterDung

I see that the removal of charity status from Greenpeace in NZ has not yet been resolved.

Maybe Mr Shawcross should start off with a few examples pour encourager les autres?

Nov 30, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Registered Commenterwoodentop

Unfortunately Mark Carney's wife is an evangelical Green

And Rupert Murdoch's mother is also a fervent green. How is this unfortunate? We know that the green movement has resonated deeply with many in our western culture. Much of what it originally advocated was undoubtedly good, as I was reminded by Ross McKitrick's brilliant presentation during the WUWT webcast marathon recently. But as Ross explained so clearly CO2 is a very hard one. Most greens have made the mistake of thinking it's simple, both as science and as economics. That is unfortunate - but the presence of such women in the lives of such independent-minded men is fine. More chance for some thoughtful economics to rub off on them and the greens with which they fraternise. It's never a one-way street.

Nov 30, 2012 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

With Dave's 'Big Society' in mind, I don't think it was the government's intention to put any air between them and the charities.

Nov 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

"...[H]e never made the mistake, as Chomsky did, of underplaying the horrific nature of the Pol Pot regime. A true humanitarian and one of the few journalists I really respect. What a great choice to supervise UK charities." --Richard Drake

Chomsky and his minions now claim (1) he was misquoted and (2) he was quoted out of context and (3) he never said it, despite reams of evidence to the contrary. His sophistry and equivocation are marvelous to behold. To get the full impact of chomskyesque ditherings, check out the Chomsky-Bot, if you've not seen it yet:

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

If you want an example of a fake charity then you need to look no further than IBT (of 28gate fame).

The 2011 accounts read as follows:

Income: £155,146
Government grants (from DfiD); £76,409
Other grants (source unknown): £77,737
Membership fees: £911
Bank Interest: £89

Somewhere between 49% and 99% of its income is from the Government.

As for its its spending:

Staff costs: £86,054
Other Costs: £38,726
Accountancy: £1,320
Total: £126,100

The amount it spent on its charitable work comes under "Other Costs" and amounts to £37,835. I guess running seminars is an expensive business.

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Terry S

Those figures are remarkable for what they reveal about IBT.

So all the media entities that were listed on the IBT website as somehow affiliated are essentially partners with a one man lobbying and propaganda campaign?

I suppose it would be worse if they had a far larger budget and staff, but it is most interesting to see figures on the glorious IBT of 28gate infamy....

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

jorgekafkazar: But the Chomsky-Bot will only generate 'new wisdoms' for 'ten percent of the time left until the heat death of the universe'. A pretty poor show :)

On a much more serious note I've already pointed (in conversation with Geoff Chambers a few months back) to Bruce Sharp's meticulous Averaging Wrong Answers: Noam Chomsky and the Cambodia Controversy. Sharp is a historian not unsympathetic to Chomsky in other areas but he lays out how dishonest and dishonourable the feted linguist has been in this supremely important area. William Shawcross gets 44 mentions in that work and had clearly grappled with the terrible realities far more, even by 1979.

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:24 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Is there such a thing as a bona fide or authentic charity?

All of them suck, embezzle in one form or another at the public teat do they not?

William Shawcross, has the opportunity to do much good and in doing so skewer the fake charity advocacy industry.

If he is honest and true to his word then the likelihood is that Mr. Shawcross will become a figure of hate in the left wing press. More especially among the 'green' NGOs and with their allies in the back corridors of councils and government departments in Whitehall where common purpose cronyism and Fabian control and the ideologies of cultural Marxism rule the roost.

I sincerely wish Mr. Shawcross the very best of luck in his endeavours, may he wield the axe and strike with aim as true and as mightily sinewed as was the arm of Charles Martel.

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

BH wrote "I've deleted AlecM and responses." For all I know, that was fine. But I encourage you to use the practice (common at Climate Audit) of adding a (possibly very brief) explanation of what the policy problem was. CA seems to write things like "snip: off topic" a lot; I think that's a significant improvement over just "snip", and it doesn't look like a significant amount of added work. (I've never put any effort into moderating a weblog, but I did run a free software project involving dozens of contributors for years, so I have some experience with making public "you can't publish this here because of such-and-such issue" decisions.)

Nov 30, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Newman

Re: Skiphill,

This year looks like being a bumper year for IBT. So far they have had £136k from DfID.

If wasn't for the austerity measures we all have to face they wouldn't have had to make do with a 78% increase in their grants from DfID.

Nov 30, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


The problem with Mark Carny's wife being an evangelical Green is that being the wife of one of the most important men in Britain will give her a platform she has not earned, she will get the chance to get her views into the press and onto tv. It is a ridiculous situation that wives are so faited by the media and that is why it is unfortunate.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Good spot KeviNUK

So they parachuted our Suzi onto the board of the GMC
They reduced the board from 35 to 11 members plus our Suzi
Her job keep the General Medical Council in line.
So no Criticism of NHS Spending Cuts from them then.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Dung: I've never heard of Mervyn King's wife's opinions on anything. But perhaps you move in much more exalted circles than I do and you know.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

"She is hugely enthusiastic, very quick off the mark, very bright and very genuinely interested in all the issues she deals with." [Grauniad]

So to interpolate: A Labour femme formidable buzzing around like a blue-arsed fly?

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

The above was a reply to jamspid and others.

Nov 30, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

so a journo becomes a quango chief. Why should a journo make a more effecive quango chief than anyone else? he now has an income...can decide whether he wants to fight battles or not. He is getting on in years. yeah, let's be Drakey and believe that change will happen! There will be some actions but the fake charity sector will continue to thrive.

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

What is the current status of Pachauri's money laundering operation/charity in the UK? (The one with Houghton and Tickell as trustees and various accounting anomalies).

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

wow! an "on-the-ball" journo who did not know about fak charities. Raise your hopes high, drakey. This guy will disappoint you. Who appointed him? On what basis did a pioneering journo accept such a dull job? "(Keep this job out of the news, Bill, please)" he is a hack. he will oblige. I would love to be proven wrong......

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Shawcross is a journalist and an author of real stature. He won't take flannel.

His biography of Rupert Murdoch 20 or more years ago was brilliant - Rupert warts and all.

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Anderson

That depends on who put him there and why. Only time will tell.
At least he's not a lefty activist who spent a lot of time re-defining charity in an attempt to exclude a lot of organisations that were doing good work. Private schools were top of her hit list but there were others that suddenly found a lot of hoops to jump through that hadn't been there before while the NGOs and the likes of IBT were getting a free ride.
Shawcross certainly can't be any worse.

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Shawcross belongs to the Henry Jackson Society - a right-wing thinktank. Watch for the BH support to dwindle.

Nov 30, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

> What is the current status of Pachauri's money laundering operation/charity in the UK?

The charity is called Teri-Europe

The last published accounts are for the year ended 30th June 2009.

Their income consisted of £48,885 from IFC (part of the World Bank Group), £52,080 from Defra and £5,275 from EU and other.

They paid £49,080 "consultancy costs" to Teri India (down from the £79,620 the previous year), £26,267 in "Other consultancies", £10,873 in "Other project costs" and £1,240 in IT and administration.

In addition to the above they paid £21,280 in Governance Costs (£17,000 of which was for "Legal and professional fees").

There are no accounts for 2010 or 2011

Nov 30, 2012 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Dearest Richard

Come on play nice, as you well know I do not move in the high circles that you are able to experience. I also have no idea what Mervyn King's wife thinks about anything. This suggests that she has no interests about which she wishes to speak, unlike Mrs Carney.

Nov 30, 2012 at 11:49 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Pachauri's charity gives to Pachauri and his lawyers? Sounds fair. (Presumably a complex atonement for 'Return to Almora').

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT


Shawcross belongs to the Henry Jackson Society - a right-wing thinktank. Watch for the BH support to dwindle.

Why? Henry 'Scoop' Jackson was a Democrat senator who became a major link in the chain that led the fall of the Soviet Union. The Society may or may not get all current foreign policy issues right but it's certainly chosen a good name. From everything I know Shawcross continues to care about the poor and oppressed, just as he did in Cambodia, though he probably feels he has learned from experience how better to achieve results that last. Haven't we all?

Dec 1, 2012 at 12:31 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Nov 30, 2012 at 11:49 PM | Dung

Dung, when I saw that rather silly article about Carney's wife in the Telegraph. I was quite surprised! Until then, to be quite honest, I didn't even know whether Carney was married or not (not that I cared!).

During Carney's tenure as head of the Bank of Canada, he has done very well by us (and our economy by him!) and I've seen no indication in anything I've ever read or heard that he is influenced in any way by anyone's activist views on any matter!

After I saw the article, I did some checking and I found that Ms. Carney is involved on the green-side - but far from what I would consider to be high-profile (or influential) organizations.

Whatever her views might be - and I don't think the Telegraph is necessarily the most reliable of sources or interpreters in such matters - to the best of my knowledge, she certainly hasn't traded on the far greater name and influence of her spouse - which, on this side of the pond, has been a far greater concern, and quite scandalous, in some instances!

Beyond that, the fact that the Carneys choose to reside where they do is very inconsistent with the image the Telegraph was attempting to portray. Before I relocated to the Best Coast, I lived in Ottawa for five years, so I do know whereof I speak:-) I still have contacts in Ottawa, some of whom do have access to gossip 'n dirt in high places - and who know my interests. So, I cannot imagine that if such were to have been found about either Carney, they would not have passed it on to me!

Furthermore, I believe that Carney has some very strong Conservative roots and a tradition of public service.

Consider the following:

His bio on the Bank of Canada site indicates that he was born in the Northwest Territories.

There's another Canadian Ms. Carney of whom you may not have heard: The Honourable Pat Carney, P.C. Senator Emeritus

Her official bio includes (but certainly is not limited to!) the following:

Born in Shanghai, China, and educated in Canada, Ms. Carney worked as a journalist and economic consultant in the Northwest Territories and Yukon before entering politics.


The mother of two children, Ms. Carney lives on Saturna Island in BC’s Gulf Islands.

My recollection (which certainly could be wrong!) is that at the time Mark Carney was appointed to his current post, it was noted that he is related to Pat Carney; given their respective generations it may have even been noted that he is one of her two children.

Given such genes and history of discretion, it seems to me that whatever the private and personal practices of Mark Carney (and/or his wife) might (or might not!) be, they are highly unlikely to have any influence on the performance of his professional duties.

FWIW, that's the view from here, so to speak :-)

Dec 1, 2012 at 1:28 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov


Thanks for that wonderful info and you are right that I made my comments based on a DT article. I think the best course of action is for me to shut up until they arrive and hope that you are correct ^.^

Dec 1, 2012 at 2:54 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Charities were not allowed to lobby or express political sentiment until about 2003 when the Blair government changed the law. It was a volte - face and charities were instucted to lobby ministers and give their opinions on all manner of political solutions to 'society's problems'.

Blair and Brown said that charities were uniquely placed to solve social problems.

The stipulations that they should be funded by private donations and use voluntary help was also scrapped. The Labour government then used them to justify much of their legislation and they opened up the coffers to ensure their placemen, like Leather, were well remunerated.

Mr Shawcross, I expect, is going to meet hostile resistance at every turn if he tries to introduce reforms.

Dec 1, 2012 at 5:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterEpigenes

Another very interesting appointment.

Or non-appointment, in this case:-

Poor old Greenpeace. One's heart goes out.....

They'll need a good holiday (at our expense) to cheer them up:-

Dec 1, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

hope this goes through. It would see WWF, Greenpeace etc having to rely on the public alone which would really reduce their bottom line. Less of my money squandered.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Martin Brumby
Yes. My reaction to Carrington's piece was "Aaah, diddums!", but I didn't think he'd let me post it.
I don't know much about Kennedy but if not appointing him is likely to piss off the greenies and the Grauniad then that's fine by me.

Dec 1, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

...given their respective generations it may have even been noted that he [Mark Carney] is one of her [Pat Carney's]two children.

Not according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, which has Mark Carney's mother as "Verlie" and notes that he is one of four children.

Dec 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterdcardno

Dec 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM | dcardno

Not according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, which has Mark Carney's mother as "Verlie" and notes that he is one of four children.

Well, who am I to argue with Wikipedia, eh?! And I did say that my recollection could be wrong! However, it may not be quite as far off the mark as it could have been!

Wikipedia's rather scant profile of Pat Carney notes that her father was a John James Camey. So it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Pat and (Mark's father) Bob were siblings, thereby suggesting that Mark may be her nephew, rather than one of her two children.

But the more important thing to keep in mind (IMHO) is that there is nothing in Mark Carney's known history, record and (possible) connections which would suggest that he is susceptible to the influence of his spouse's and/or his own green-tinted personal practices and/or beliefs to the extent that they might have affected the performance of his professional responsibilities.

Mark Carney was appointed by Conservatives - and knowing what I know about Canadian politics, I find it difficult to believe that they would even have considered him for this very important post if there was any indication in his personal and/or private associations and affiliations that might affect the performance of his duties.

This is in sharp contrast to what I recall reading about U.K. former PM Tony Blair - and the influences of his spouse and sister-in-law - which may (or may not) have been the antecedent of Dung's concerns when he read the Telegraph's silly article about Carney's spouse.

Dec 2, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

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