If you thought blood sports had been outlawed in this country, think again. Recent days have seen the revival of that time-honoured British pastime: bashing the scapegoat. The Charity Commission cowers defenceless as blows rain down from all sides — the press, the Public Accounts Committee and the grandees of the charity sector. Finally, in an attempt to appease its tormentors, the commission has announced a statutory inquiry into the Cup Trust and has appointed an interim manager to run the trust.
But are the fingers of blame pointing in the right direction? Significantly the commission’s press release confirmed that the inquiry had been opened ‘immediately following the receipt of new information from HMRC’. Lest we be concerned about taxpayer confidentiality, we are reassured that ‘the information was supplied in the course of our regular contact with HMRC about charities giving us cause for concern and under specific legal provision which permits the sharing of information in such circumstances’. The Cup Trust was, after all, a tax avoidance vehicle, and tax is the province of HMRC, not the Charity Commission. So far the commission has taken the rap, but isn’t HMRC as much to blame…?
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