On 17th January 2023, the industry regulator, the Bar Standards Board decided to hand down an order imposing a ban on a barrister preventing him from continuing to practise after evidence emerged
The UK Government Appoints A New Person To The Role Of Charity Commissioner For England And Wales
- What Is The Charity Commissioner And Why Is The UK Government Making This Appointment?
- Who Has Been Appointed To The Role Of Charity Commissioner And Was It Plain Sailing?
- What Legal Duties Does The Charities Commissioner Have?
- Which Charities Are Regulated?
- What Does the Charity Commission Do?
- What Powers Does The Charity Commission Have?
- Way Forward?
What Is The Charity Commissioner And Why Is The UK Government Making This Appointment?
The Charity Commissioner is the ‘non-ministerial government’ department governing UK registered charities. The plan to appoint a new chairperson was made after the previous Charity Commissioner named Baroness Stowell decided not to seek another term and resigned at the end of her three-year-tenure in February 2020.
Who Has Been Appointed To The Role Of Charity Commissioner And Was It Plain Sailing?
Mr Orlando Fraser, a commercial barrister has been appointed as Charity Commissioner by the UK Government. He appears to have been appointed due to his extensive experience in the Charities sector. In the early 1990s he reportedly assisted Bosnia’s Muslim people by apparently transporting an aid convoy to the affected population. He has recently helped women suffering from domestic abuse. Mr Fraser also sat on the Charity Commission Board between the years 2013 and 2017. During his tenure, he chaired the Policy and Guidance Committee and the Governance and Remuneration Committee.
His appointment has been controversial as his suitability has been questioned for several reasons:
- Politically - historic association with the Conservative Party
- Family – his Grandfather was a Labour MP and his father represented the Conservatives
- Recruitment Process – criticised for being opaque
- Independence – many critics questioned his independence.
Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee were scathing of the Government’s choice and they voted against Mr Fraser as a candidate branding the selection process and the final shortlist as ‘unimaginative’. It also described the appointment as ‘lacking care, attention and commitment’ by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. However, despite the criticism Mr Fraser was appointed on 5th April 2022 and will officially start on 25th April 2022.
What Legal Duties Does The Charities Commissioner Have?
As Charity Commissioner Mr Fraser will have a number of legal responsibilities and duties. The Charity Commission is to be run in the absence of control or influence by Ministers from the Government. The Commission itself is legally required expand the confidence and trust the public place in charities and is also legally obliged to encourage all forms of charitable giving.
Which Charities Are Regulated?
Charitable organisations will fall under the Charity Commission’s ambit if
- it has a charitable aim
- its income exceeds £5,000 and
- incomes is less than £5,000.
What Does the Charity Commission Do?
Where the Charity Commission receives allegations of wrongdoing it investigates. The Commission investigates everything from straightforward minor errors to more serious breaches needing an inquiry into what has happened and how it can be rectified.
What Powers Does The Charity Commission Have?
If a major issue is discovered by the Charity Commission, it has various options available:
- alert law enforcement bodies e.g. police
- limit and control the arrangements a charity can make
- suspend the charity bank account
- remove a trustee; and
- appoint an interim manager
During his Parliamentary evidence session on 24th March 2022 Mr Fraser testified to MPs that on his watch the Commission will continue operating independent of government ministers. He said the facts of every case brought to the Commission’s attention will be reviewed and a conclusion drawn based on charity law. He emphasised the point by warning that if an issue is found, the Commission will take action and if there is not then then they will not.
It will be interesting to see what happens from 28th April 2022. However, as Robert Nieri from Shoosmiths says, ‘Time will tell’.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
 UK Government – Orlando Fraser is confirmed as the new Charity Commission Chair - Orlando Fraser is confirmed as the new Charity Commission Chair - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
 Nieri, Robert – The Charity Commission – Good Cop/Bad Cop – 30 March 2022 – The Charity Commission - Good Cop/ Bad Cop?, Robert Nieri (shoosmiths.co.uk)
 May, Melanie - DCMS confirms Orlando Fraser as Charity Commission Chair – 5th April 2022 - DCMS confirms Orlando Fraser as Charity Commission Chair - UK Fundraising
 May, Melanie – Serious concerns over Charity Commission Chair selection process see preferred candidate rejected – 1 April 2022 - Serious concerns over Charity Commission Chair selection process see preferred candidate rejected - UK Fundraising
 UK Parliament – Another pre-appointment hearing for Chair of the Charity Commission – Tenth Report of Session 2021-22 – 31 March 2022 - Another pre-appointment hearing for Chair of the Charity Commission - Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (parliament.uk)