The former Foreign Office minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, has accused the Charity Commission of “disproportionately” focusing on Muslim charities in its investigatory work.
The Tory peer said during the annual Hinton lecture organised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations that there was, “An increasingly disproportionate focus on Muslim charities during the tenure of William Shawcross as chair of the Charity Commission since 2012.”
She also criticised the government for not engaging properly with Muslims, and urged the charity sector to create more spaces for communities.
Warsi outlined how life had become increasingly difficult for Muslims in Britain.
She said coexistence was no longer enough and called for better connections between different communities.
Warsi said that William Shawcross’ appointment as chair of the regulator was part of the problem due to his “previous statements on Islam, Guantanamo, Israel/Palestine, the Iraq war and his association with the likes of the Henry Jackson Society”.
She said: “His statement on the risks of donor money leaking out to support terrorism led to a community under scrutiny despite there being no evidence of this charge, as Tom Keatinge said as part of a Demos report in 2014.”
Warsi added that even though Muslims are “among the most generous” there had been a “disproportionate number of Muslim charities in recent years” that had been subject to Commission inquiries.
She said there had been an increase in the number of allegations relating to terrorist abuse of charities, many of which were Muslim, and that this was a “disproportionate increase in allegations when number of Muslim charities has remained more or less the same”.
However, Warsi stated that experts agree that “extremist abuse of the charity sector has and remains negligible”.
She described the Charity Commission had used “what a Cabinet colleague called the Al Capone method of policing”.
“I call it McCarthyism.” She thanked Sir Stephen Bubb, former chief executive of the Charity Commission, for his support of the Muslim charity sector and being a “tremendous friend to Muslim charities”.