Regulator disqualifies trustee of Nottingham charity over death threats

A former trustee of the Nottingham charity Muslim Foundation UK has been banned from serving as a charity trustee or holding a senior function in any charity in England and Wales for 10 years.

According to a Charity Commission judgement, Pir Afzal Qadri praised the murder of a Pakistani politician, called for violent uprisings against the Pakistani government and issued “edicts of death” against judges in the country.

The Commission found that his comments were “contrary to fundamental British values,” including the rule of law and Article 2 (right to life) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Qadri was arrested in Pakistan under sedition and terrorism charges in November 2018 after he called for a violent uprising against the state following the acquittal of Christian death row inmate Asia Bibi on charges of blasphemy.

The mother-of-five had been sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 until her release in 2018. She eventually moved to Canada in May 2019.

According to court records, Qadri said that the three judges who acquitted Asia Bibi should be killed, that Prime Minister Imran Khan is a Zionist agent and that army chief Gen. Javed Qamar Bajwa’s orders should be not accepted.

But in April last year, a video message and statement by Qadri were released in which he issued an apology for incendiary remarks against the acquittal of Bibi. An accompanying press release stated that he was sorry for “hurting the sentiments of the government, the judiciary and the chief of army staff.

The Charity Commission inquiry report was also highly critical of the management, governance and administration of Muslim Foundation UK, finding its trustees failed to comply with their legal duties and responsibilities in a range of areas.

The report said that the trustees failed to recognise the seriousness of Qadri’s comments and did not take appropriate action.

The charity also failed to put adequate policies in place to protect children attending supplementary educational classes (Madrassah) operated by the charity. The report found that the charity’s child protection policy was generic and out of date and that the trustees were unable to provide evidence that the policy was applied appropriately in practice.

During the Commission’s investigations, it found that the charity owed over £100k to individuals in its community through undocumented, unsecured interest-free loans.

The charity was also unable to provide sufficient documentation related to thousands of pounds expended overseas, and transferred funds using methods outside of the regulated banking sector.

Further, the inquiry found the trustees were not able to demonstrate they had complied with their legal duties with regard to accounting for and protecting the charity’s assets which is also misconduct and/or mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

Tim Hopkins, Assistant Director for Investigations and Inquiries, said: “This charity has been mismanaged by its trustees over a number of years. They failed to take seriously the reprehensible public statements made by one of their fellow trustees, and have since been unable to provide evidence of having complied with some of their most basic legal duties and responsibilities.

“The trustees must now enact significant improvements to their systems, policies and processes. We will be monitoring their compliance with these actions and they are required to report to us on their progress”.

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