28 May 2009

Purpose Presumed To Be Charitable

Common Purpose is an educational charity which delivers leadership training programmes. Their existence seems to upset a lot of people - google will provide more details for those interested.

Of these many google links, "Common Purpose - a Fraudulent Political "Charity"," is of interest. Following the link will take the reader to what appears to be a web enquiry to the Charity Commissioners about the organisation, Common Purpose.

The enquiry states that the organisation is a political organisation and asks the Charity Commission why they regard the organisation as a charity.

In reply, the Charity Commission say,

"I thought it might be helpful to set out the general principles we follow when registering a charity. In order to be charitable in law an organisation must be set up:

* for a purpose which is charitable in law; and

* for the benefit of the public generally

Common Purpose is registered as a charity with the following objects:

"The advancement of education for the public benefit and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, to educate men and women from a broad range of geographical, political, ethnic, institutional, social and economic backgrounds in constitutional, civic, economic and social studies, with special emphasis on civil and social awareness and responsibility in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, provided always that nothing contained in the Memorandum and Articles of Association shall authorise, or be deemed to authorise the carrying on of any activity for any purposes save those regarded as charitable by the laws of England and Wales"

Advancing education in the named topics is charitable, and the class of people to be educated is broadly defined enough to demonstrate public benefit.

At first glance, that seems straightforward enough.

But have a look at the Charities Act 2006, particularly section 3 which provides -

"(1) This section applies in connection with the requirement in section 2(1)(b) that a purpose falling within section 2(2) must be for the public benefit if it is to be a charitable purpose.

(2) In determining whether that requirement is satisfied in relation to any such purpose, it is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit.

(3) In this Part any reference to the public benefit is a reference to the public benefit as that term is understood for the purposes of the law relating to charities in England and Wales.

(4) Subsection (3) applies subject to subsection (2).

Noting particularly,

section 3(2) "[...] it is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit".

Now, re-read the Charity Commission's note. Haven't they just presumed that Common Purpose's description of "education" is for the public benefit?

It looks to me like they're in breach of section 3(2) of the Charities Act 2006 with respect to Common Purpose, charity number 1056573.

ps As for the picture at the head of this note - the Stuckists once fell out with the Charity Commission. You can read about it by following the links under OFILI TRUSTEE SCANDAL.


  1. I too have been complaining of Common Purpose. they are creating clandestine networks accross the top echelons of our society, including the Police. the ring leaders of each group distribute "funds" to the lower members. The "graduates" are trained to be the "leaders of the future" and to "lead outwith their authority". Not just a breach of the Charities Act here (I came to the same conclusion myself), but something far more dangerous.

  2. "Not just a breach of the Charities Act [...]"

    A breach of the Charities Act would end up with the removal of their charitable status; further, the pursuit of the organisation through the courts would subject them to scrutiny.

    I'm surprised that the person who queried the Charitable status of the organisation allowed himself to be fobbed off.