Scottish Daily Mail
THE CHARITY WITH NO SHAME
Founded to promote peace, a wealthy Rowntree trust now funds Muslim fanatics, former Irish terrorists and anti-Semitic enemies of the West. How CAN it justify its charitable status?
EVEN by the standards of the Irish Troubles, the grotesque murder of pub landlord Cecil Black was in a class of its own. The 73-year-old grandfather was battered to death with a metal gas cylinder shortly after teatime one Friday afternoon in 1990. Cecil’s ‘crime’, so to speak, had been to refuse to serve three drunken youths who claimed to be entitled to free drinks because they were ‘ connected’ to the Republican terrorist movement.
After smashing up Cecil’s Bar in broad daylight, and helping themselves to the contents of the till, the thuggish trio took their victim upstairs, tied him to a sofa, and beat him around the head until his skull caved in.
Cecil, from Dundalk, just south of the Ulster Border, was later found face-down, in a pool of blood. His wrists and ankles were bound, and there were deep cuts to his hands, face and ears.
The Gardai (the Irish police) described the old man’s murder as ‘one of the most brutal crimes that we have ever encountered’.
The ringleader of the youths who carried out this vile attack was later identified as Eugene Kelly. An enthusiastic member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), a t errorist group which has murdered at l east 120 people, i ncluding the Conservative MP Airey Neave, he was arrested and then convicted of Cecil Black’s murder in April 1992.
In court, Kelly and his two fellow defendants ‘did nothing but laugh’. He would serve 15 years for the publican’s murder but singularly failed to repent.
Instead, after being released on licence in 2007, he became active once more in the INLA, and the f ollowing year was arrested in possession of a Glock revolver and 50 rounds of ammunition.
He was jailed again, this time f or a decade, and is currently behind bars in Ireland’s Portlaoise prison, where he has expressed no remorse for his crimes.
There are many ways to describe a man like Eugene Kelly. You could fairly call him a thug, a violent thief, or a terrorist. One might even dub him a bloodthirsty gangster. I t would take quite a leap of imagination, however — not to mention a callous disregard for his and the INLA’s many victims — to publicly describe this repugnant convicted killer as a ‘prisoner of war’.
Yet that is the way in which 48year- old Kelly is lionised on the internet site of Teach na Failte, a ‘ non- profit’ organisation which claims to have been ‘created to help current and f ormer INLA prisoners and their families’.
He is listed, in those glowing terms, alongside a fellow ‘Republican Socialist PoW’ called Noel Mooney, who has been convicted of possessing explosives and being a member of the IRA. Visitors to the website are urged to send ‘letters, cards, birthday greetings and so forth’ to the duo, along with cash donations to their relatives.
Teach na Failte is, according to Irish newspapers, run by one Eddie McGarrigle, a former INLA prisoner who has served ten years in jail for a string of terrorist offences, including the attempted murder of a British soldier in 1990.
McGarrigle was i nvolved in criminality as recently as 2010, when he was j ailed f or orchestrating the botched kidnapping of a Cork businessman.
So far, so morally bankrupt. Yet it turns out that Teach na Failte, which so proudly celebrates terrorism in Northern Ireland, and has such cosy links to recently active criminals and terrorists, is able to pursue its agenda thanks to one of Britain’s wealthiest charities.
In November, it received a grant of £149,915 from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT), an influential foundation which was set up by Rowntree, the famous l ef t - wing philanthropist and confectionery magnate, just over a century ago.
This money was, according to JRCT records, supposed to fund something called a ‘transition initiative’. Exactly what it will end up achieving is for now unclear.
On paper, t he f act t hat t he JRCT — which cites promoting ‘peace and security’ as one of its aims — should lend its considerable financial support to an organisation which so proudly considers Republican terrorists ‘prisoners of war’, may seem so odd as to be almost surreal.
Yet it will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has been keeping a close eye on recent news.
After all, just over a week ago, it emerged that the trust is also the principal financial backer of Cage, a Muslim ‘ human rights’ group which has spent the past week acting as apologists for Mohammed Emwazi, the ISIS executioner known as Jihadi John.
Cage has held a string of press conferences and given interviews describing Emwazi as an ‘extremely kind’ and ‘ beautiful young man’, whose crimes are not his fault but t hat of t he British s ecurity services.
Amid public outrage over these twisted pronouncements, it has emerged that the JRCT has given three separate grants totalling £305,000 to Cage, which for years has been regarded as a pro Taliban, pro Al Qaeda front group, and boasts a highly dubious track record of promoting extreme Islam.
Is it right that such an organisation should have been funded by a charity which claims i ts decision- making is ‘ based on Quaker values’? The Charity Com- mission thinks not. It has launched an investigation into whether the grants were legal, and said this week that Cage’s recent comments ‘raise clear questions’ about the trust’s conduct.
But if you thought such a development might prompt a bit of soulsearching on the part of the JRCT, you would be sorely mistaken.
The trust, which boasts £150 million in investments, and makes grants totalling £7 million a year, initially responded to criticism of its affairs by issuing an extraordinary statement offering neither remorse nor any apology for supporting the Islamist group.
‘We believe that Cage is asking legitimate questions about security service contact with those who have gone on to commit highprofile and horrific acts of violence,’ it read.
It was only last night, after a week of intense pressure, that the JRCT grudgingly bent to the inevitable and agreed to no longer fund the group, although it is yet to offer any hint of an apology.
The lack of contrition may, on the face of things, seem odd. Yet it also turns out to be entirely in keeping with the ethos of this left-wing organisation, which despite — or perhaps because of — its huge wealth and influence, appears to regard itself as being above criticism.
Founded with a remit to ‘promote peace, equality and accountability’, and run by a low-profile committee of practising Quakers, it controls a vast reservoir of cash from which non- profit organisations can apply for funding. On paper, most recipients of its largesse boast an impeccably liberal profile. In practice, however, many display troubling loyalties.
Before Christmas, the trust gave a grant of £60,000 to a Muslim group called Jawaab, which purports to campaign against Islamophobia, but which has circulated tweets informing British Muslims that, to cite one example: ‘The state has always been a racist colonial state.’
A few years ago, the Trust gave another £60,000 in ‘core funding’ to t he Is l amic Human Rights
It’s given £305k in grants to pro Al Qaeda group
The Trust is ‘proud to support Cage’ in its work
Commission (IHRC), which campaigns for the ‘rights’ of such terrorists as Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted for the first blowing up of the World Trade Centre in 1993, and Abu Hamza, the hook-handed cleric, formerly resident in London, who is serving a life sentence in the U.S. after being convicted of 11 terrorist offences.
Why was the IHRC also deemed worthy of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust’s support? We can but speculate. But it’s not as if the trust hasn’t been repeatedly warned about the dangers of writing large cheques to such groups. As long ago as July 2013, a Jewish charity called the Community Security Trust (CST) wrote to the JRCT saying that it regarded the charity’s financing of Cage as ‘deeply offensive and utterly baffling’.
After all, the Muslim group was not just making statements that promoted terrorism, it was also circulating anti-Semitic literature.
To this end, the Community Security Trust pointed out to t he JRCT that Cage’s website contained an article that advanced the conspiracy theory (shamefully common in extremist Islamist circles) that the 9/11 attacks in New York were committed not by Al Qaeda, but instead by Jewish owners of the World Trade Centre, as part of an insurance fraud.
The CST also informed the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust that Cage had, over the years, offered extensive support to the extremist cleric Abu Qatada, who had i n 1999 given a speech in London advocating the killing of British Jews, including children.
In response, the JRCT was, once again, strikingly unapologetic. It replied that the anti-Semitic article had been removed from Cage’s website, and insisted that (despite the CST’s revelations) it remained ‘ proud to support Cage’ in its ‘important work’.
Despite seeming happy to fund an organisation which published false, and deeply anti- Semitic propaganda, the JRCT isn’t always a friend of the free Press.
In 2013, for example, it wrote a cheque for £60,000 to the Media Standards Trust, a pressure group which spawned Hacked Off, the lobby organisation fronted by Hugh Grant and other celebrities which is seeking to impose statutory regulation on the Press.
The JCRT is also currently ‘in partnership with’ the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF), another wealthy grant-giving organisation which has, in turn, funnelled almost £500,000 to the Media Standards Trust. Completing an incestuous circle, Sir David Bell, founder of the Media Standards Trust, i s also an EFF trustee.
To understand how it has come to this, we must wind the clock back more than 100 years, to when Joseph Rowntree founded the non-profit organisations that bear his name.
The confectionery tycoon, one of the great industrialists of the Victorian era, had built a huge fortune, turning his family’s small grocery store in York into a manufacturing and retail empire that spanned several continents and, at its height, employed 40,000 men and women.
Rowntree was also, for the era, a highly progressive individual, who (thanks in no small part to his Quaker faith) was both a committed pacifist and a vehement supporter of Gladstone’s Liberal Party, and believed he had a moral duty to improve the rights of workers, to alleviate poverty and fight injustice.
With this in mind, in 1904 he put half of his fortune into a selection of trusts designed, in his words, to ‘search out th e underlying causes’ of ‘weakness or evil’, tackle the ‘causes of poverty’ and lobby for social change.
Today, four non-profit organisations still bear his name. All are hugely wealthy, thanks to careful stewardship of their financial assets.
One is a housing trust, which controls around 2,500 homes. The other three have, to varying degrees, become accustomed to using his money to push Britain to the Left.
They include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an economic think-tank which is regarded as a pillar of the liberal establishment and describes its purpose as being to ‘inspire social change’.
Despite rising GDP and house prices, falling unemployment and a booming stock market, the foundation has, in recent years, produced on an almost monthly basis apocalyptic reports suggesting that vast numbers of Britons are living in abject poverty.
The most recent was released in January, and made the extraordinary claim that 40 per cent of British families are now ‘ too poor to play apart in society’, thanks largely to welfare benefit cuts and the so-called cost-of-living crisis.
As usual, its findings were breath- lessly reported by the Guardian and other liberal newspapers.
Bizarrely, given much of its output, the Foundation takes great umbrage at being described as ‘left-wing’, and for years filed legal complaints when its politics were pigeonholed by newspapers.
However, its chief executive, Julia Unwin, took a formal role as an advisor to Gordon Brown on social issues when he was prime minister — a fact which is today curiously absent from her CV on the organisation’s internet site.
Then there is the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which says it ‘ aims to correct imbalances of power’ and is designed, since it is not a charity, to make political donations.
In practice, the trust has, over the years, become a virtual arm of the Lib Dems. Its board of eight directors includes at least five party activists, including the Lib Dem peer Sally Brinton, the MP Nick Harvey, two former election candidates, and a one-time party press officer.
It has given £ 960,800 to Nick Clegg’s party to cover its ‘campaigning costs’ in the upcoming election, and was a generous donor to the failed campaign for a change to the UK voting system to proportional representation.
Intriguingly, given the supposed liberal tradition of free speech, another major recipient of the trust’s funds turns out to be Hacked Off. It gave £50,000 in 2012 and 2013, and another £25,000 in 2011.
A further £25,000 has gone to The Impress Project, a related lobby group also seeking to regulate the newspaper i ndustry, which is backed by former F1 chief Max Mosley (who began campaigning for media regulation after the News of the World photographed him taking part in a sadomasochistic orgy with dominatrix prostitutes), the author JK Rowling, the left-wing playwright David Hare and Labour peer Lord Sainsbury.
Then, finally, there’s the suddenly notorious Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which differs from the Reform Trust in that it is officially a charity so must only give grants to organisations which fulfil its charitable remit of promoting ‘peace, equality and accountability.’
Though officially apolitical, and run by a board made up of low-profile members of the Quaker church, the vast majority of its trustees work in Left-leaning corners of academia, charities, and the public sector. One of its trustees is Emily Miles, a civil servant who was once in Tony Blair’s strategy unit.
Given recent events, another trustee with intriguing loyalties is former civil servant Susan Seymour, a vigorous supporter of Cage: her Twitter feed regularly promotes the organisation, and she attended one of its meetings in London in December. According to her Facebook page, Seymour is a friend of Asim Qureshi, a Cage spokesman who once endorsed ‘jihad’.
On Twitter, she shows herself to be a critic of ‘climate change deniers’, believes UKIP voters are ignorant, reckons Israel is oppressing Palestinians in Gaza, and frequently ‘retweets’ posts by Moazzam Begg, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee.
Is she the key to explaining the charity’s strangely enthusiastic support for Cage? The trust insisted otherwise when I asked.
It further insisted that support for the jihadis of Cage, and the imprisoned I ri sh terrorists of Teach na Failte, is fi r mly in keeping with Joseph Rowntree’s professed support f or pacifism and human rights.
In this, as in so much this week, the charity which aims to promote peace, yet so blithely finances supporters of terrorism, appears to regard itself as beyond reproach.