- Charities are increasingly mounting attacks on Government policies
- Some have even threatened to take the Government to court
- But the charities receive millions in taxpayer funding every year
- A Mail investigation has now discovered how the Left use these organisations to undermine the elected Government and its policies
Guy Adams for the Daily Mail
18:47 EST, 21 August 2015
03:19 EST, 22 August 2015
A time-honoured ritual is being played out amid the chaos gripping Calais this summer holiday season. It goes something like this.
First, a senior Tory politician, from David Cameron downwards, will outline a new measure to stop illegal immigration — such as building a tall fence — and deal with the unfolding crisis.
Next, they will tour TV and radio studios, hoping to convince voters that something is indeed ‘being done’ about the endless queue of men, women and children hoping to use the French port to sneak into Britain.
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Views: Pro-immigration charities have been increasingly vocal on Government policies around migration
Finally, in order to achieve what is regarded as ‘balance’, news outlets will give airtime and column inches to Left-wing opponents of the same new measure. They generally offer a vigorous critique of Tory immigration policy.
So it goes in the knockabout world of party politics, where our tradition of open democracy rightly dictates that every new Government policy proposal should be vigorously discussed (and, if necessary, criticised).
Yet something strange, and perhaps worrying, has lately come to characterise the nature of the immigration debate. For, in recent weeks, it has seemed as if opposition to Government immigration policy is being led not by MPs but by a hostile cabal of combative charities.
A succession of spokesmen from these organisations — whose political activities are governed by strict rules — have mounted a series of public attacks on the Government.
Often, their comments have been most pugnacious. Occasionally, they single out the Prime Minister for direct criticism. Sometimes, they could be legitimately described as propaganda.
For example, the head of one of the charities, Refugee Action’s Stephen Hale, contended recently that the Government was ‘seeking to create a climate of fear and misinformation’ about asylum-seekers.
Meanwhile, a PR officer for another, Asylum Aid, told the BBC that the crisis was ‘horrible to watch’ and ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
Another charity, the Refugee Council, joined the fray and argued that Mr Cameron was using ‘awful, irresponsible, dehumanising language’ about Calais immigrants, in a way which was ‘extremely inflammatory’.
Criticism: Refugee Action’s Stephen Hale (left) contended recently that the Government was ‘seeking to create a climate of fear and misinformation’ about asylum-seekers. Sir David Bell, a one-time SDP and Labour activist who is chairman of Common Purpose, is a trustee of the Esme Fairbairn Society
That allegation was a response to an aside by the Prime Minister, during a TV interview, in which he’d said that the root cause of the Calais situation is a ‘swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life’.
A fourth charity, the Joint Council For The Welfare of Immigrants, also waded into the row, issuing a statement that accused Cameron of fomenting racism. It argued that ‘to refer to human beings as a “swarm” is demeaning, and ignites the flames of xenophobia.’
So far, so apocalyptic. But the charities which appear to be so upset by Tory immigration policy haven’t just been fighting a PR battle against the Government. They’ve also been taking the battle to them through the courts — funded by taxpayers.
To this end, a fifth charitable organisation, called Detention Action, recently managed to force the suspension of the Government’s ‘detained fast-track’ asylum process, on the grounds that it was ‘systematically unfair and unjust’.
More than 320 asylum-seekers have duly been released.
Funding: Labour MP Ruth Cadbury is a trustee of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, which gives millions to pro-immigration charities
All of which highlights the fact that this small group of pro-immigration charities, rather than Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Labour Party, has led the attacks on government policy.
But perhaps this is a subtle ploy by a rudderless Labour Party, still paralysed by its leadership battle.
For a cynic might wonder if frontline Labour politicians have concluded that they don’t need to challenge Government immigration policy when the charity sector — which is riddled with Labour figures — is so apparently willing and able to go on the offensive.
Indeed, this story offers a fascinating insight into the methods by which the Left successfully infiltrates the Establishment, using charities and other public bodies to act as what conspiracy theorists often call ‘fifth columnists’, and quietly undermine the elected Government.
Take, for example, the aforementioned Refugee Action, which exists to ‘enable refugees and asylum-seekers to build new lives’. Stephen Hale, its chief executive, is a lifelong Labour activist who worked as a special advisor to Margaret Beckett and Michael Meacher when the pair were ministers in the Blair cabinet.
The governing body of trustees includes Stefanie Pfeil, a former employee of War On Want, and Andy Gregg, a Left-wing political activist from Islington who is friends on Facebook with Far-Left Labour leadership favourite Jeremy Corbyn.
Together, this group of people control an annual budget of more than £20 million. And intriguingly, given how vigorously Refugee Action seeks to criticise the Government, almost all of that money comes not from private donors, but from taxpayers.
Refugee Action’s most recent accounts reveal that £19.6 million of its £20.3 million annual budget comes from the Home Office — much of it as grants to help illegal immigrants and failed asylum-seekers return home and set up a new life. Almost all of the balance comes from public sources, including Liverpool and Bristol councils, and the Big Lottery Fund.
A mere £5,000 (or 0.025 per cent of its income) came from ‘sundry donations’ — or the pockets of members of the public.
Hidden: A Mail investigation has shown how the Left use the charities to undermine Government policy
Is this budget properly spent? We must assume so, although the recent scandal regarding the now-defunct Kids Company has revealed just how cavalier Governments can sometimes be when handing out cash to charities which like to criticise them.
Another organisation that relies on taxpayer funding, even as it devotes itself to seeking to undermine Government policy, is the Refugee Council, which was so quick to describe Mr Cameron as ‘awful’ and ‘irresponsible’. Citing its raison d’etre as ‘working directly with refugees and supporting them to rebuild their lives’, its celebrity ‘patrons’ are Labour-supporting actress Emma Thompson, left-wing author Hari Kunzru, and Lord (Bill) Morris, the former trade union leader.
Trustees include Vaughan Jones, a minister in the United Reformed Church and a longstanding Labour activist in Tower Hamlets who has been using his Twitter feed to endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership.
Immediately following the general election campaign, Mr Jones used the same feed to call Tories ‘unpatriotic’ and describe Mr Cameron as ‘sick’ and a ‘bully’.
The morning after polling day he tweeted: ‘Tragic night. End of UK, EU, NHS, Labour Party and Welfare State.’ Mr Jones is entitled to that view, of course. Just as he and his fellow leftists within the Refugee Council appear to feel entitled to attack and undermine the elected Government whilst at the same time accepting millions of pounds of funding from them.
Accounts show that roughly £5,565,000 of the organisation’s £8 million annual budget comes from public money, including £4.1 million in grants from the Home Office, £516,000 from Sheffield Council, and £219,000 from the NHS.
Income from ‘donations’ is £1.5 million, or roughly 18 per cent of its budget.
Then there is Asylum Aid, which was officially set up to provide ‘free legal advice’ to asylum-seekers.
Left: Many of the people associated with these charities have strong links to the Labour party
It has apparently decided to expand its activities into mounting a PR campaign against what a spokesman in a BBC interview called the ‘absolutely disgraceful’ Calais situation.
That spokesman is called Zoe Gardner. Her politics are patently clear. On election night, she used her Twitter feed to declare: ‘This exit poll [suggesting a Conservative victory] is not making me think I’ll have a happy night.’ Later, she offered another insight into her politics, when Ukip leader Nigel Farage suffered defeat in Thanet. ‘YESSS! Farage fail!’ she tweeted.
Asylum Aid’s chair of trustees is Cate Briddick, a Labour-supporting barrister who was active in Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party and is now an energetic supporter of Yvette Cooper’s campaign for the party leadership.
Another trustee, Tim Finch, works for the Left-wing IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) think-tank and spent the general election campaign knocking on doors for Labour candidate Polly Billington in Thurrock.
Surprisingly enough, the organisation run by this motley group has proved remarkably successful in gaining access to Government funds. Asylum Aid, which raised £423,000 last year (and spent £789,000), got £201,000 of that money from the Legal Aid Agency. It also enjoyed five-figure grants from Comic Relief, Children In Need, the UN, and the European Council On Refugees And Exiles.
Just £56,673 came from ‘membership and supporters’, representing 13 per cent of its income.
The Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants, which would like the public to believe that the Prime Minister has been ‘igniting the flames of xenophobia’, is also cut from a similar cloth.
It has a Unison officer called Susan Cueva as a trustee, and gets £22,000 each year from the trade union. Its most recent annual report describes Unison and Unite as ‘partner organisations’.
Active members: For example, Asylum Aid’s chair of trustees is Cate Briddick, a Labour-supporting barrister who was active in Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party
Accounts show that the Joint Council, which ‘exists to promote justice and fairness in immigration’, has an annual budget of £320,000, of which £62,000 comes from Legal Aid, and another £128,000 in income from ‘training and conferences’.
Despite its high profile, it has only 270 members, and records income of just £983 a year from donations — 0.3 per cent of its budget.
Completing the set is Detention Action. It raises a mere £12,739 of its £260,808 income from donations.
Described as a charity which ‘supports and advises migrants held in detention’, it also acts as a vigorous purveyor of pro-immigration propaganda.
Reading its annual report, you might never imagine that a terrorist has ever exploited the asylum system in order to enter the UK, that no asylum-seeker has ever committed a criminal offence in Britain, or tried to abscond.
Instead, all asylum-seekers are presented as innocents who are being poorly treated at the hands of an authoritarian Home Office.
‘Visiting a detained person, you are plunged into a completely self-contained, high-security institution,’ according to Detention Action’s literature. ‘You see the tiredness in their eyes and greyness in their face.’
In fact, very few asylum-seekers are ever detained. At the end of 2014, there were 22,926 asylum applications in the process of being decided, involving 31,493 people. Yet official figures show that only 1,698 were behind bars.
But we digress. For in addition to the public money they have accessed, almost every high-profile immigration charity also enjoys financial support from a handful of less well-known but hugely wealthy grant-giving organisations.
Everywhere: The charities get money from the Government, but also from other grant-giving organisations which are riddled with Labour supporters
And — surprise, surprise! — they also turn out to be quietly riddled with Labour supporters.
Perhaps the most intriguing is the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Founded by an Old Etonian City financier called Ian Fairbairn in 1961 in memory of his late wife, its funds have helped the Refugee Council, the Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants, and Detention Action.
Created with a loose remit, ‘to further such charitable purpose or purposes as the Trustees in their absolute discretion shall think fit’, the Foundation boasts assets of £869 million and gives out more than £40 million a year in around 300 separate grants, making it one of the most powerful non-profit organisations in Britain.
Handing out this money is an 11-person board, which, over the years, has slowly, and surely, become a stronghold of the Left. Members include Tom Chandos, a New Labour peer and former think-tank chairman, Joe Docherty, a quangocrat who in 2012 tried (unsuccessfully) to become a Labour parliamentary candidate, William Sieghart, publisher husband of film-maker Molly Dineen, who made Tony Blair’s 1997 election broadcast, and Eleanor Updale, the author married to BBC presenter Jim Naughtie.
Trustees include Sir David Bell, a one-time SDP and Labour activist who is chairman of Common Purpose, a ‘leadership training’ charity that has been variously described as ‘pseudo masonic’ and ‘the Left’s equivalent of the old boys’ network’.
He also helped found the Media Standards Trust, a lobby group which spawned the organisation Hacked Off, which seeks to push for State involvement in the regulation of the print media.
Perhaps it is unsurprising, given this selection of power-brokers, that recent years have duly seen the Foundation dole out cash to a number of leftish causes, including the IPPR, once described as ‘Tony Blair’s favourite think-tank’, the Fabians, a think-tank formally affiliated to Labour, and Sir David’s own Media Standards Trust, which has benefited to the tune of more than £400,000.
Donations: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has given generously to a selection of Left-wing organisations, including such pro-immigration groups as Detention Action
On a still more nakedly political note, Esmee Fairbairn last year funded Green & Black Cross, a group who provide ‘legal support for protests against the government’s wave of massive spending cuts’ and the Child Poverty Action Group, which recently proclaimed that ‘children are at the bottom of the government’s list of priorities’.
Another wealthy charitable trust, which gives to Refugee Action, Asylum Aid, and Detention Action, is the Barrow Cadbury Trust, set up by the eponymous grandson of the chocolate company’s founder.
It has £85 million in assets, and hands out just under £5 million a year in grants, and boasts the Labour MP and Cadbury descendant Ruth Cadbury as a trustee.
A third is the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, set up by the late publishing mogul, Labour donor and Blairite peer. It has around £600 million in assets, spends around £25 million a year, and has given to a variety of refugee and asylum groups including Detention Action. Trustees include Estelle Morris, the former Labour education secretary.
Finally, there’s the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, set up by the Victorian confectionery magnate to ‘promote peace’.
It has £200 million in assets, spends around £6.7 million each year, and has given generously to a selection of Left-wing organisations, including such pro-immigration groups as Detention Action.
Not long ago, the Joseph Rowntree Trust found itself in the news after deciding to fund, until January 2014, the Muslim ‘human rights’ group Cage. A year after the funding was stopped, Cage described Jihadi John, the masked ISIS executioner who featured in the notorious filmed beheadings of hostages, as ‘kind and gentle’.
Despite being rapped on the knuckles by the Charities Commission, CAGE won a landmark High Court ruling that the commission must face a judicial review of its decision to pressure charities not to fund the controversial group linked to ISIS executioners.
And so it seems these insidious fifth columnists — funded by taxpayers, of course, and hijacked by the Left — are able to continue to give succour to Britain’s enemies and undermine all attempts to control illegal immigration.