Charity watchdog probes Peace TV funder

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Birmingham-based Islamic Research Foundation International to examine continued concerns about the administration of the charity, which funds Peace TV

The charity’s objects include the advancement of the Islamic faith, and it delivers on these aims by securing donations for the Peace TV network (Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu), which broadcasts religious content. Income for the past five years has been between £500,000 and £800,000.

The Commission previously engaged with the charity in 2016 and 2019 over concerns raised about the charity’s governance.

This included concerns over the charity’s decision-making in relation to its funding of Peace TV. In November 2019, Ofcom moved to suspend Peace TV Urdu’s licence – and both its licence and that of Peace TV were surrendered and consequently they are no longer broadcasting in the UK.

The Commission has now opened an inquiry to examine the trustees’ decision making about continuing to fund the Peace TV channels despite several breaches of Ofcom’s broadcasting code, and their willingness and ability to appropriately adapt following the identification of serious issues arising from this.

It will also look at whether there are conflicts of interest and/or loyalty arising from an overlap between some of the charity’s trustees and the Peace TV licensee’s directors.

In addition, the inquiry will consider the charity’s application of restricted funds and the trustees’ plans for funds already raised but not yet passed over to the Peace TV channels, and whether all funds that the charity granted to fund the Peace TV channels have been used to carry out activities that exclusively furthered a charitable purpose.

It will look at whether the charity’s resources and/or activities have furthered non-charitable purposes and/or resulted in the trustees receiving unauthorised personal benefits.

The Commission says it may extend the scope of the inquiry if additional regulatory issues emerge, but emphasised it has not made any conclusions and the opening of the inquiry is not a finding of wrongdoing.

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 outcomes were.

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