Judgment has been entered in High Court claim no. BL-2017-000101 against the Defendant Laurence Roy Moffitt (a.k.a. Laurie Moffitt) for copyright infringement, misuse of private information and breach of confidence in respect of the address books containing the names and addresses of the members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Permanent injunctions have been granted. Mr Moffitt has been ordered to pay damages and to pay the Claimants’ legal costs on the indemnity basis.
In the same week as last month’s election, a Times story alleged that members of the PBCC, who do not vote, had been "leafleting for Conservative candidates in key marginal seats", including Chippenham in Wiltshire, Montgomeryshire and Yeovil in Somerset, and had said prayers for the party’s success.
The commission said that it would look into the matter. The church said it had begun its own investigation of the allegations and would cooperate fully with the regulator.
The commission said this week it would not take further action. A spokeswoman for the commission said: "Following an article in The Times, the commission contacted the Plymouth Brethren. The Brethren have fully cooperated with the commission’s enquiries, and we currently have no concerns regarding any issues linked to political campaigning."
A spokesman for the PBCC said: "We are of course pleased but unsurprised that the Charity Commission has rejected the false allegations from The Times newspaper and have concluded that there is no basis to take matters further." He added that the PBCC's lawyers were "seeking appropriate redress."
The PBCC is not itself a registered charity, but many of its local congregations are. In January 2014 the Preston Down Trust, a Devon-based congregation of the church, was registered with the commissionafter a five-year legal battle over whether it was established for the public benefit.
The church adheres to a doctrine of separation and has been accused of breaking up families and using harsh disciplinary practices. Since the registration of the PDT, more than 75 other Plymouth Brethren congregations have been granted charitable status by the commission, the register of charities shows.