To: The Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
We, the undersigned, would like to welcome you as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We write as concerned members of UK civil society to ask you to ensure the appointment process for a new Chair of the Charity Commission is not politicised.
Earlier this month, your predecessor Oliver Dowden MP announced his intention to crack down on charities in a Telegraph opinion piece.
Talking about the hiring process for the new Chair of the Charity Commission, Mr Dowden complained about “a worrying trend in some charities that appear to have been hijacked by a vocal minority seeking to burnish their woke credentials”. He said the new Chair will be chosen based on their ability to “rebalance” charities away from that agenda - and Ministers will only hire someone who convinces them they will do this.
Charities exist for the important purpose of serving the public good, a fixed test set out in statute, which differs from the political agenda of the Government of the day. Reflecting this reality, legislation is explicit that it should not be influenced by the Secretary of State.
We believe Mr Dowden’s comments showed his ambition to direct and control the work of the Charity Commission to achieve political ends.
I am sure you can see, as the British public can, there is a huge risk to our way of life if politicians hire a Chair to explicitly pursue a political agenda. We call upon you, as the Culture Secretary, to make clear your vision for a strong civil society, correctly regulated but free of Ministerial influence.
Jo Maugham, Executive Director, Good Law Project
Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Shelter
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST
Andrew Hind, Chief Executive, Charity Commission, 2004-10
Sarah Mann, Director, Friends, Families and Travellers
Stephanie Draper, Chief Executive, Bond
Gracie Bradley, Interim Director, Liberty
Kate Agha, CEO, Oxford Against Cutting
Alex Jacobs, Director, Joffe Charitable Trust
Tom Brake, Director, Unlock Democracy
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Sue Tibballs, CEO, Sheila McKechnie Foundation
Janet Thorne, CEO, Reach Volunteering
Benedict Southworth, Chair, Friends of the Earth Charitable Trust
Martin Drewry, CEO, Health Poverty Action
Daniel Gorman, Director, English PEN
Garry Jones, Chief Executive, Support Staffordshire
Gus Alston, CEO, Stonegrove Community Trust
Dominic Pinkney, CEO, Volunteer Centre Camden and Hammersmith & Fulham Volunteer Centre
Nicole Furre, Director, Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust, Covent Garden Social and Crafts Centre Association, The Phoenix Garden, Camden Community Centres' Consortium