Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Brexit: Legatum and Exeter's MP concern at its 'unprecedented access'

A month ago, Ben Bradshaw was asking for the Legatum think tank to be investigated:
Futures Forum: Brexit: Legatum and Exeter's MP calling for 'urgent investigations' into Legatum

This week, the Daily Mail has been reporting on the latest in its own exposures - and reporting on the Exeter MP's concern about Legatum's 'unprecedented access' to ministers: 

Charity chiefs force pro-Brexit think-tank to abandon its political activities because it had 'crossed a clear line'

  • Legatum Institute breached strict rules that ban charities from political work 
  • Investigation revealed how organisation influenced Government's Brexit policy
  • Charity Commission ordered it to delete website called Brexit Infection Point 


PUBLISHED: 01:39 BST, 3 June 2018

A controversial pro-Brexit think-tank exposed by The Mail on Sunday has been forced to abandon its political activities after being censured by the Charity Commission. The watchdog ruled that the Legatum Institute had 'crossed a clear line' by breaching strict rules that ban charities from undertaking political work.

The commission launched its investigation after this newspaper revealed how the institute had played a key role in influencing Government Brexit policy, including helping Boris Johnson and Michael Gove to lobby Theresa May for a 'hard' exit from the EU.

We also disclosed the Kremlin business links of Christopher Chandler, the institute's billionaire founder.

The commission ordered the institute to remove from its website a report called the Brexit Inflection Point, which it said had failed to show there might be potentially negative outcomes from Brexit.

The controversy has triggered an exodus of institute staff. Economics director Shanker Singham, who held a series of meetings with Ministers and officials, including Mr Gove and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, was followed out of the door last month by senior fellow Matthew Elliott. Mr Elliott ran the Vote Leave campaign.

Mr Chandler, who was recently accused in the Commons by a Tory MP of being a 'Russian agent' – using the legal protection of parliamentary privilege – is understood to have been concerned by the 'reputational damage' caused by the institute's Brexit work. He strongly denies all of the claims made about him in the Commons, and stresses that he played no part in influencing the institute's Brexit stance.

Charity Commission chief David Holdsworth said: 'Charities with educational purposes have a valuable role to play in public debates, but they must act responsibly. On such a highly political issue it is especially important that trustees can clearly demonstrate they are operating in line with our guidance to inform the public in a balanced and evidence-based way'.

Last night, former Labour Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: 'I was long concerned that this extremely wealthy organisation, which has been pushing for the hardest of Brexits, enjoyed unprecedented access to hard Brexiteer Ministers. Most economists believe the hard Brexit pushed by Legatum and their Tory Minister allies will be extremely damaging.'

The Legatum Institute's chairman of trustees, Alan McCormick, said: 'Over the past five months we have worked closely with the commission, proactively reporting relevant information and answering all questions posed to us. We are pleased to see the official recognition on the part of the commission that the institute operates independently and that we have systems in place designed to ensure balance and neutrality in our research and educational work.'

Legatum Institute pro Brexit think tank banned from political activities | Daily Mail Online

Meanwhile, the digital, culture, media and sport select committee has"begun the process of issuing a formal summons to Dominic Cummings demanding that Vote Leave’s campaign director give evidence to the committee inquiring into whether “fake news” planted on Facebook swung the result of the EU referendum campaign":
MPs to demand Dominic Cummings give evidence on fake news | Politics | The Guardian
Could Dominic Cummings really be forced to appear before committee? - BBC News
Brexit architect could be forced by MPs to appear before fake news inquiry - Mirror Online

This is also something of interest to Exeter's MP:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP once 'regarded as a crank' >>> >>> but now questions are multiplying over the roles of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories

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