Charity Commission takes over Brighton mosque

Brighton Mosque. Pic: The Voice of Hassocks

The Charity Commission has appointed an Interim Manager and opened a statutory inquiry into Brighton Mosque & Muslim Community Centre.

The action comes a few months after the mosque received an official warning after a speaker on its premises was jailed for encouraging terrorism.

The Commission said it opened the inquiry due to “regulatory concerns resulting from a failure to resolve a dispute at the charity which is having a detrimental impact on the charity’s governance and administration.”

It has now appointed Andrew Wilkinson, of Shakespeare Martineau LLP, as Interim Manager who will take charge of the management and operation of the charity and will identify and appoint new trustees.

Earlier this year Abu Bakr Deghayes was found guilty of encouraging terrorism following a trial at the Central Criminal Court in January.​ He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with one year on licence.

The 53-year-old was arrested and charged after making an uninvited speech at Brighton Mosque in November 2020.

In a video of the speech played to the court, Deghayes said: “Whose power is more powerful than us? Allah is more powerful than you. You, idiots. You kuffar (non-believers)… The non-believer is an idiot. He’s stupid.”

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Abu Bakr Deghayes. Pic: Sussex Police

He went on to say: “Jihad, jihad, jihad. Jihad is compulsory. Jihad is fighting by sword. That means this jihad is compulsory upon you, not jihad is the word of mouth but jihad will remain compulsory until the Day of Resurrection.”

Asim Takriti, the chairman of the mosque, reported Deghayes to police after being concerned by his speech.

In issuing its official warning, the Commission determined that the trustees knew or ought to have known the risk that Deghayes posed to the charity.

But due to an ongoing dispute at the charity about control of its administration and management, the Commission says there is an increased risk that “appropriate actions will not be taken to protect the charity from further undue risk of harm.”

A statement said: “The Commission is concerned generally about the impact of the dispute on the charity’s ability to operate sustainably and for the benefit of its beneficiaries. The parties to the dispute have not, as advised repeatedly by the Commission, been able to appropriately settle the dispute in the best interests of the charity.”

The inquiry will examine the administration, governance and management of the charity and in particular:

  • Whether the trustees have been properly appointed and/or removed since autumn 2021.
  • Whether there is an accurate and clear understanding at the charity about establishing its members, including in terms of notifying and consulting with members about all relevant events at the charity.
  • Whether the trustees have learnt from the issues which led to the charity receiving an Official Warning from the Commission in May 2022 and are willing, and able, to further the charity’s objects in an appropriate manner.
  • Whether the charity’s income and expenditure has been properly accounted for since autumn 2021.
  • Whether the charity’s expenditure has been used to carry out activities that exclusively furthered a charitable purpose.

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