Charity Commission investigates charity of extremist MP 24/03/09

The Charity Commission has today opened an inquiry into the charitable funds raised for George Galloway’s controversial appeal: the Lifeline for Gaza, also known as Viva Palestina.

The campaign was in the news for all the wrong reasons last month when the charity organised a convoy, led by Galloway, to travel to Gaza, but saw nine of its party arrested in connection with terrorism offences under the Terrorism Act 2006 before it left the UK.

The extreme left MP was also recently barred from entering Canada to speak, on security grounds, because of his association with extremist terrorist group Hamas.

Through various public fundraising events, the Viva Palestina appeal claims on its website to have raised over £1 million pounds in aid to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza.

The Commission has attempted to contact the appeal on repeated occasions over the last month in an effort to secure acknowledgement that the funds are held for charitable purposes.

However, to date, the Commission has had no substantive response to the issues that have been raised, either from the appeal or individuals connected with it.

In addition, the Commission has concerns over financial governance arrangements relating to the use of funds.

The Commission has noted that these facts require further investigation, and given the charity’s failure to engage with the Commission, have now led to the opening of an inquiry under Section 8 of the Charities Act 1993.

The Commission said it will make no further detailed comment at this stage but normal practice is to publish a statement of results setting out its findings, once the inquiry is completed.

The Gaza convoy was not always welcomed on its travels, when it arrived in the Egyptian town of El-Arish it was pelted with stones and vandalised.

In the past Galloway has offered open support for the dictatorships of Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad.

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