‘The Commission has made clear to the trustees their legal and regulatory responsibilities and that the Charity’s current activities must cease immediately.’
– Charity Commission Regulatory Case Report: The Atlantic Bridge
Regular readers will be well aware of my one man campaign against the Atlantic Bridge, a charity established by defence secretary Dr Liam Fox to promote the ‘special relationship as exemplified by the Reagan-Thatcher partnership’ that includes on its advisory council William Hague, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, and other senior Conservatives.
The Charity Commission published its report earlier today. The good news is that the Atlantic Bridge was found guilty of being party political. It also failed the public benefit test because its work was found to be insufficiently educational (promotes a pre-determined point-of-view) and its events are not sufficiently open to the public. Despite this it retains it charitable status. Its punishment is to be given twelve months to get its act together.
That’s a great outcome for Liam Fox who registered the Atlantic Bridge as a charity in 2003 and has made no attempt to hide its political affiliations. The Atlantic Bridge achieved charitable status by claiming to be an educational trust, but in place of education has sponsored predominantly private events at which senior Conservatives – including present cabinet ministers – and their US allies may bond behind closed doors.
Throughout this period, it has enjoyed tax exempt status and so its activities have been subsidised by the taxpayer.
These activities have included promoting a book by William Hague, subsidising a dinner for Tory MPs with a Fox News film reviewer in LA and sponsoring trips by Tory MPs to neo-Conservative think tanks in Washington DC.
The Charity Commission has now agreed to turn a blind eye to all of this, if the Atlantic Bridge agrees to comply with the law within the next 12 months. In no other arena would such a blatant disregard for the law go unpunished.
Posts on the Atlantic Bridge are collected here.