Readers will remember that Tory Conor Burns complained to the Charity Commission over the summer about this tedious Oxfam campaign. Today the Commission has ruled, finding Oxfam guilty of failing to maintain its political neutrality:
“We considered that the text of the tweet and the embedded picture, gave rise to speculation and varying perceptions about the tweet’s purpose, leading to complaints. We consequently considered that the tweet could have affected the views of those who received it and could be misconstrued by some as party political campaigning. As our guidance Speaking out: guidance on campaigning and political activity by charities (CC9) says, a charity “must remain neutral and should consider working with other parties to help ensure public perceptions of neutrality” and, as set out in an example in our guidance, that acceptable political activity is that which “supports the charitable purposes and that perceptions of the charity’s independence are unaffected… we concluded that the charity should have done more to avoid any misperception of political bias by providing greater clarity and ensuring that the link to the “Below the Breadline” report was more obvious. We appreciate that tweets by nature are short. Nevertheless, consideration must always be given as to how they might be perceived when received in isolation.”
Coincidentally Oxfam’s new policy director Richard Pyle is a Labour member. A shame to see such a once respected charitable brand sell out along the Save the Children shock PR route.