The Charity Commission has issued the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) with an official warning after its flagship report by trade expert Shanker Singham calling for a hard Brexit was found to have broken charitable law.
The IEA withdrew the “Plan A+” report after being contacted by the Charity Commission in November and has announced that it would be setting up a non-charitable wing to allow it to continue to make “firm policy proposals”, its chair of trustees Neil Record said.
Mr Singham has since re-published the “Plan A+” report on the website of his company, Competere, together with the “A Better Deal” report.
David Holdsworth, the commission’s deputy chief executive, said: “Most charitable think tanks understand the rules that are associated with charitable status, and are careful to ensure their work complies with our guidance and inspires public trust.”
“I hope that our official warning now encourages the trustees of the IEA to recognise and understand that they must run the organisation as a charity, and comply with charity law,” he continued.
Neil Record, the IEA’s chair of trustees, said the charity was “disappointed” with the official warning, adding: “The IEA is considering a range of options, as we believe this warning has extremely widespread and worrying implications for the whole of the think tank and educational charity sector.”
He continued: “A precedent is being set: research papers – and their launches – which put forward policy proposals may now fall outside the parameters of what the Charity Commission considers acceptable activity.”
The official warning is the formal regulatory step relating to this decision. The commission’s compliance case into the IEA continues.