By email only
PO Box 211
L20 7YX T:
Our ref: C-526626
Dear Mr Ali Ahmad
Your Freedom of Information request response
Thank you for your email received 8th September 2020 in which you requested the following
“1) can you please advise why no action has been taken by the Charity Commission into what
b) the lack of any accounts
The above request has been processed under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act
Please note that a response to an FOIA request is considered to be open to the world, and
therefore the public
interest has to be considered not the specific interests of the person requesting
the information. A request for information under the FOIA must be for information held in recorded
In relation to Q1a and Q2
I can confirm that the Commission holds information relevant to your request, however we are
unable to disclose this information as the exemptions at section 32 (2): Inquiries apply to your
Section 32 (Inquiries)
On track to meet your deadline?
0300 066 9197 (General enquiries)
on filing your annual return and accounts
Section 32(2) states that information held by a public authority is exempt information if it is held
only by virtue of being contained in a) any document placed in the custody of a person conducting
any inquiry or arbitration for the purposes of the inquiry or arbitration, or (b) any document created
by a person conducting an inquiry or arbitration, for the purposes of the inquiry or arbitration. In this
context “inquiry” means any inquiry held under any statutory provision. The Commission conducts
statutory inquiries under the power set out in Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011.
Charities Act 2011 powers
Information relating to statutory inquiry cases is subject to an absolute exemption from disclosure
under FOIA by virtue of Section 32. However, the Commission has also considered whether to
disclose this information by reference to its powers and duties under the Charities Act, which are
informed by common-law principles.
The Commission’s objectives include increasing public trust and confidence in charities and
enhancing the accountability of charities to the general public (section 14). Its general functions
include disseminating information in connection with the performance of its functions (section 15).
In performing its functions under the Charities Act the Commission has a duty to have regard to the
principles of best regulatory practice which include the principles that regulatory activities should
be proportionate and transparent (section 16). The Commission has therefore considered the
extent to which it is in the public interest for the information to be disclosed. Please see the Public
Interest Test conducted below.
Arguments for disclosure
• The information you have requested relates to an inquiry. The Commission recognises that
there is public interest and concern in seeing that the regulator of charities is doing its job
properly. As such, there are arguments that to disclose this information is in the public
• In addition, the conduct of a quasi-judicial inquiry may engage the principle of open justice
– that justice should be seen to be done. The open justice principle also favours disclosure.
There are, however, strong arguments in favour of withholding the information in the public
Argument for non-disclosure
• The Commission’s power to conduct inquiries is set out in statute. The clear purpose of
this power is for the Commission to prevent and take action against misconduct and
mismanagement in charities, thereby protecting the reputation and rights of the charity and
others and ensuring that charities are not abused for criminal or other illegal purposes. The
disclosure of the information requested would be likely to prejudice these functions as if the
details of information gathered during the course of an inquiry were routinely disclosed,
charities, and other parties, would be reluctant to co-operate or enter into open and frank
discussions with the Commission in the course of its work. This would affect the
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Commissions ability to carry out our statutory functions as outlined at s14 and s15 of the
Charities Act 2011.
For the reasons relating to the argument for non-disclosure the Commission considers that the
greater public interest balance lies in favour of withholding this information.
In relation to Q1 (b)
I can confirm the Commission holds information relevant to your request, however it is exempt from
disclosure under Section 22(1) of the Act.
Section 22 provides that a Public Authority can exempt information from release if it is held with the
intention of future publication. In this instance The Charity Commission can confirm that the
information you have requested meets these criteria.
However, Section 22 is a qualified exemption and, as such, requires the Commission to carry out a
test of public interest regarding the disclosure of the information requested.
There are two qualifications to section 22; a request for information may only be refused if:
a) it is reasonable in all the circumstances that the information should be withheld from disclosure
until the future date of publication (whether determined or not) or,
b) the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure
The public interest in permitting Public Authorities to publish information at a time of their own
choosing is important. It is a part of the effective conduct of public affairs that the publication of
information is a managed activity within the reasonable control of the relevant Public Authority.
Where the decision has been taken (in principle or otherwise) to publish Public Authorities do have
a reasonable entitlement to make their own arrangements to do so.
As a result of the above the Commission is satisfied that, in this instance, the argument in favour of
withholding the information outweighs the argument in favour of disclosure.
Under Section 16 of the Act (the duty to advise and assist) when the Inquiry Report is concluded
and published you will be able to view and download it from the Commissions website. The
information you seek will be available in the report.
I would advise that the Commissions Inquiry is ongoing and the purpose of the inquiry is to :
• why the trustees failed to fully comply with the action plan issued by the commission in
• whether there has been any private benefit to trustees with regard to the operation of the
charity’s properties and whether any conflicts of interest have been properly managed
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• whether the trustees have properly administered the charity in accordance with its
• the financial management of the charity
• whether or not the trustees have complied with their duties and responsibilities as trustees
under charity law, in particular in relation to whether the trustees have made decisions in
the best interests of the charity
• whether there has been any misconduct and/or mismanagement by the trustees
The purpose of an inquiry is to examine issues in detail and investigate and establish the facts so
that the regulator can ascertain whether or not there has been misconduct or mismanagement;
establish the extent of the risk to the charity’s property, beneficiaries or work; decide what action
needs to be taken to resolve the serious concerns, if necessary using its investigative, protective
and remedial powers to do so.
It is the commission’s policy, after it has concluded an inquiry, to publish a report detailing what
issues the inquiry looked at, what actions were undertaken as part of the inquiry and what the
This concludes our consideration of your information request.
Ms Jan Provost (Data Protection and Information Rights Manager)
If you think our decision is wrong, you can ask for it to be reviewed. Such requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of our response and should be addressed to the Charity
Commission at PO Box 211, Bootle, L20 7YX (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). More
information about our Freedom of Information Act review service can be found on the following link
If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you can appeal to the Information
Commissioner. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our review
procedure. The ICO can be contacted at the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF (email: email@example.com).
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