Education charity slammed by regulator after children exposed to terrorist propaganda

The Charity Commission has criticised a charity that operates a school where children were exposed to terrorist propaganda.

The Lantern of Knowledge Educational Trust has been issued with an official warning and ordered to improve after finding its trustees were responsible for mismanagement and/or midconduct.

This following an investigation after a former Islamic Studies teacher, Umar Ahmed Haque, was charged with disseminating terrorist material to children at a school run by the charity.

During his trial Haque acknowledged he had shown children in his class a video relating to terrorist group Daesh, although he pleaded not guilty to the charges and the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Haque was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 after being convicted of a number of terrorism offences unconnected to the charity.

In addition, the regular has raised concerns about a decline in the Lantern of Knowledge Secondary School’s performance.

“Umar Haque’s action at this charity was appalling,” said Charity Commission assistant director for investigations and inquiries Tim Hopkins.

“It is completely unacceptable for any charity to be associated with terrorism and we are concerned by the corrosive effect this might have on public confidence in this and other charities.”

“Charities should lead the way in taking public expectations seriously and be distinct from other types of organisations in their attitude and behaviour, their motivations and methods.

“We expect the trustees of this charity to learn from the failings set out in our report, and to comply with the required actions to strengthen the charity’s administration. We will closely monitor the trustees’ compliance with these actions.”

The regulator found that Haque had “grossly abused” his position of trust at the charity. Its investigation also looked at the school’s compliance with school standards and criticised trustees for “failing to address a decline in compliance with these standards. Over the last five years the school has sunk from the highest rating of “outstanding” to the lowest of “inadequate”.

Despite the concerns the regulator has acknowledged that the charity has improved its governance and safeguarding procedures since the Commission intervened.

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