Legal challenge launches amid fears new Charity Commission chair will push ‘anti-woke’ agenda

A legal challenge has been launched over concerns the government is looking to force the Charity Commission to push an ‘anti-woke' agenda.

The action has been taken following comments made last week by former Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden around the appointment of a new chair of the Charity Commission .

Dowden, who was promoted to Conservative Party co-chairman in this month’s government reshuffle and replaced by Nadine Dorries as Culture Secretary, said that he was concerned by a “vocal minority seeking to burnish their woke credentials” among charities.

Dowden’s comments included criticism of charities looking to address their historic links with slavery. He added that he wanted the new chair of the regulator to “refocus” charities away from such issues and to concentrate on their founding missions.

The Good Law Project is taking the action over concerns that the government is seeking to push the Charity Commission beyond its remit of “muzzle” charities.

It says that the need for charities to stand outside party politics is already “embedded in legislation” and that the regulator “should not be subject to direction” by the government.



We don’t think it’s the Charity Commission’s job to muzzle or ‘cancel’ charities that want to tell the truth about Britain’s past, said the Good Law Project.

“But Ministers want to turn charity law on its head - charities that help their political agenda will be left alone and charities that resist it will be punished.

“Our public institutions exist to serve the public good - not the political whims of passing Governments. Anyone accepting an appointment following this flawed process should be very clear - we believe it is unlawful and will ask for it to be quashed.”

Bindmans LLP has been instructed by the Good Law Project to launch the action.
It has raised almost a third of its £100,000 target. So far it has received 1,308 pledges worth £31,020.

A letter has been written to Dorries by the Project's legal team to formally start the judicial process. This stresses that “the independent of the Commission is fundamental to public trust in its work and the proper exercise of its regulatory functions”.

    Share Story:

Recent Stories


How to elevate your non-profit storytelling with data and performance metrics.
Sage Intacct the non-profit financial management platform, takes a look at giving trends and insights.

What has the pandemic taught us about the public’s perception of charities?
In this episode of the Charity Times Leadership podcast, we take a look at what the pandemic has taught us about the public’s perception of charities. Charity fundraising platform, Enthuse, recently released its quarterly donor research study, which highlighted significant shifts in donor behaviour throughout the duration of the pandemic. Not only does the report highlight an overarching sense of positivity towards the sector, but a propensity for younger generations to give more generously, too. Lauren Weymouth is joined by Enthuse CEO, Chester Mojay-Sinclare to discuss more.

The importance of the ‘S’ in ‘ESG’
In this episode, Lauren Weymouth is joined by Ketan Patel, equities fund manager at EdenTree, to delve into the issue of social investment and why that all-important ‘S’ in ESG is more relevant now than ever before. The social element of ESG often gets forgotten when thinking about investing in more ethical and sustainable ways. But, after a challenging year for all areas of society, social injustice has been highlighted, and there’s a much greater need for charities to put people at the heart of their investment decisions.