Saturday, 19 October 2013

Following the Tribunal decision on the Cup Trust, this may be the best Parsons, Woodcock and Co can hope for.

1 comment:

  1. The Cup Trust case is very interesting and has considerable resonance with the Exclusive Brethren’s Preston Down trust matter. It is notable that the tribunal has taken the view that there is overwhelming public interest in the continuance of the inquiry by the Charity Commission. The trust is also described as ‘a charitable tax-avoidance vehicle that raised £176.5m in private donations but spent only £55,000 on good causes over two years’. I don’t currently have access to the accounts of the Exclusive Brethren, but I am very aware that they raise a lot of money in private donations and spend very little on good causes (at least until the summer of 2012). In recent months they have been spending money on causes that are non-brethren, and have probably spent significant amounts of additional money on publicising their new giving, but this is still probably a very small proportion of the total amount they have raised. I was once a member of the Brethren and I can recall my particular location giving several hundreds of dollars each month to the Man Of God (international leader) for his services to the group. Our location was one of many, so it is likely that the total amount gifted to the leader was in the order of several millions of dollars. We were even advised to vary the amount of gift month-on-month to prevent the authorities from taxing it as a salary for services given.

    I can’t see the Exclusive Brethren’s Preston Down Trust winning their case when it goes to tribunal. I happen to know that during the months that they have been granted a stay, the Charity Commissioners have received a stream of further evidence. Much of this information is not only damning, but would likely shock most tax payers to know that they were in some way contributing to it. Such practices as the dismantling of families and the enforced restriction of education is effectively sponsored by the tax payer. Many may regard these actions as not only uncharitable, but contrary to Human Rights legislation.

    The very fact that the Exclusive Brethren are fighting the decision with such vigour is probably an indication of the finances at stake. Some have estimated the value of their charitable status (for all of their UK network of trusts) to be in the tens of millions of dollars each year, perhaps as much as GBP100,000,000.00 in gift aid and tax advantages.

    The sad thing is, it is probably unlikely that the Exclusive Brethren will reverse their uncharitable teachings such as their doctrine of Seperation or their ban on university education. They may be more likely to legally threaten or bribe those who have evidence against them – people they describe as “opposers”. Why do I think this? Because this is how they have acted in recent decades.