Greenpeace, after having lost its bid to the Charities Commission for charity status, has recently won a case in the Court of Appeal allowing it to reapply to the Charities Registration Board (now part of the Department of Internal Affairs, following the disestablishment of the Commission). However, rather than reapplying at this stage, the environmental lobby group’s lawyer, Davey Salmon, has applied to the Supreme Court to try and overturn the lower Court’s decision on two grounds, including the extent to which political advocacy is allowed.
The National Business Review reports:
In November, Justices Rhys Harrison, Lyn Stevens and Doug White set aside the then-Charities Commission’s 2010 decision to decline the lobbyists’ charity status.
Greenpeace says whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal, the bid for charity status will still need to be reconsidered.
The Court of Appeal judges referred the Greenpeace application back to the Charities Commission’s replacement – the Department of Internal Affairs and the Charities Registration Board for reconsideration.
In its finding, the Court of Appeal said the organisation’s political advocacy needs to be “truly ancillary” to its principal charitable objectives.
The lobby group’s political involvement was central to the then-Charities Commission’s refusal to grant the application.
Back in 2010, the commission found:
- Two of Greenpeace’s objectives – promoting “peace” and “disarmament” – were political, not charitable.
- Greenpeace was involved in illegal activities, such as trespassing; therefore it was not maintained exclusively for charitable purposes as illegal purposes are not charitable.
In its decision, the commission also referred to a number of mission statements on the Greenpeace website, including:
- We are actively campaigning for international disarmament.
- We believe greater peace, greater security, greater safety is possible. Reaching out across national boundaries Greenpeace is working with citizens and political leaders around the world to make this happen.
In order to be registered as a charity an organisation must be established and maintained exclusively for charitable purposes. Political purposes are not charitable purposes.
An organisation may, however, be registered as a charity if it has a political purpose so long as the political purpose is ancillary to the charitable purposes of the organisation and is not an independent purpose.
A date has yet to be set for the Supreme Court hearing.
Political Greenpeace unhappy with charity win – wants more
By Blair Cunningham. Monday March 11, 2013
See Court of Appeal Ruling: