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U-Turn: Charity Commission Approves Public Money To Jihadi John ‘Beautiful Man’ Group CAGE

The charity commission has reversed its position on the terror apologist group CAGE after a High Court hearing yesterday, saying it overstepped its remit in instructing tax payer-funded charitable funds to not give cash to the group, who famously described Jihadi John as a “beautiful man”.

The regulator intervened in March as more and more details emerged of CAGE’s relationship with both suspected and convicted terrorists, attempting to cut off their funding. Two charities – the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) and the Roddick Foundation – subsequently pledged not to “fund CAGE either now or in the future”.

Prior the intervention, at the end of February, the charity commission’s chairman, William Shawcross, had met with US intelligence who described the “human rights group” as a “jihadist front”.

In an email on 1 March this year, Peter Clarke, who sits on the commission board and is a former head of the Met’s anti-terrorist branch, asked the commission’s head of investigations whether it was “legitimate for a donating trust [JRCT] to pick and choose in this way? It seems very strange to me that a charity could seek to justify donations to a largely odious organisation by saying that one small part of its work might be claimed to be charitable.”

On 2 March Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland secretary, wrote to Mr. Shawcross saying: “It is wholly unacceptable for charities supported by the taxpayer (through the generous tax treatment afforded to all charities) to be funding an extremist group like this one”.

However, yesterday in an agreed statement the commission backtracked, saying that it “does not seek to fetter charities’ exercise of discretion whether to fund the charitable activities of CAGE for all time, regardless of future changing circumstances”, The Guardian reports.

In response to the capitulation, CAGE and the JRCT – who gave CAGE hundreds of thousands of pounds – withdrew their judicial review.

Adnan Siddiqui, the director of CAGE, welcomed the decision and said it was significant for the “whole charitable sector”.

“The Charity Commission has today been forced to climb down from its previous position. Cage is grateful for the wide-ranging support it has received. This is an important vindication of our position. We know this will come as a relief to the whole charity sector and the attempt to interfere with the lawful activities of civil society has been blocked”.

The charity commission said it had intervened after the public outcry following CAGE’s insistence on defending Jihadi John’s actions, including the beheading of American journalists James Foley, which they said was somehow the fault of British intelligence service for “harass[ing]” the terrorist.

In June, the Prime Minister David Cameron blasted the National Union of Students for working with CAGE: “When you choose to ally yourselves with an organisation like CAGE, which called Jihadi John a ‘beautiful young man’ and told people to ‘support the jihad’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, it really does, in my opinion, shame your organization,” he said.

CAGE has also defended al-Qaeda linked Aafia Siddiqui, who was married to one of the 9/11 plotters and was jailed for 86 years in the US for attempting to murder US officials in Afghanistan and assaulting those who tried to stop her. CAGE says it has “dedicated itself” to freeing her.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the commission said they regretted “that this judicial process has dragged out, consuming charitable and public funds.”

Adding: “We welcome CAGE’s decision to withdraw its application for judicial review. For the Charity Commission this case was always about defending our responsibility for protecting the public trust and confidence in charity.”

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