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Charity Commission Finds For The National Trust After Mass Outrage

Mon Mar 15 2021

No ‘grounds for action’ over controversial Slavery report.

You may remember last September that the National Trust released a report highlighting how 93 of its locations had been involved in colonialism and historic slavery.

At the time the report caused widespread outrage and prompted a slew of complaints to the Charity Commission, forcing it to launch an investigation.

 

Well, the Charity Commission has now finalised its investigation and found that they had no grounds for ‘regulatory action’ against the National Trust.

The commission, as part of their investigation, had considered if the report was in furtherance of the National Trust’s purposes and examined all the trustee’s decision making in the commissioning and publication of the report.

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We welcome the Charity Commission's conclusion that there are no grounds for regulatory action against us. We are also pleased the commission is satisfied we gave due consideration to how the report, and the research behind it, would further our charitable purpose.

National Trust Spokesperson

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According to various sources, as well as the outcry to the report on social media, the Charity Commission had only received three complaints but the National Trust had had 771.

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The Commission welcomed the charity’s commitment to learning lessons from its recent experience, and its ongoing commitment to take into account a wide range of views and opinions within its membership and wider society. The trust had a well-reasoned response to the question of how the publication of the report furthered its purposes. The trustees were able to demonstrate that they explicitly considered and determined that commissioning and publishing the report was compatible with its charitable purposes.

Charity Commission Statement

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The commission has also reported that, as part of its investigation, they found that the National Trust trustees had considered the negative impact the report could have had but had only gone ahead after consulting a panel of 2,000 of its members on it and had also shown “considerable support for research into challenging histories”.

 

However…

 

The Charity Commission also said that the publication of the report did “generate strongly held and divided views, and in light of this, it is reasonable to conclude that the trust’s planning and approach did not fully pre-empt or manage the potential risks to the charity” and that it could have done more to clearly explain the link between the report and the National Trusts intent.

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In the case of the National Trust, we have concluded that the charity did not breach charity law, and so there are no grounds for regulatory action. I understand that this conclusion will not satisfy everyone. But I hope it is reassuring to those who raised concerns about the charity’s report, who said it made them feel uncomfortable, and concerned that the charity had lost its way, that the commission has examined the trust’s actions very closely.

Helen Stephenson - Chief Executive, Charity Commission

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Mon Mar 15 2021

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