Nothing British urges Charity Commission to take action
The Charity Commission has been urged to take action against a voluntary organisation that has been accused of being a front for the British National Party.
Soldiers off the Street was set up last year by the BNP's former Welsh secretary Bill Murray to help homeless former service personnel. Nothing British, an anti-extremist group set up by Conservative supporters, claims the group is one of a growing number of forces groups being established or supported by the BNP as a way of gaining popularity.
Maurice Cousins, a researcher at Nothing British, said: "Soldiers off the Street presents itself as a legitimate organisation but doesn't tell people about its BNP links."
Cousins' complaints to the commission have been rejected because Soldiers off the Street is not a registered charity. But it describes itself as a 'charitable organisation' on its Facebook page, which has more than 4,300 friends. "Unless the commission clamps down, it undermines the work of reputable groups," said Cousins.
Murray said his organisation would apply to become a charity when it reached the £5,000 registration threshold. He said he had never denied his BNP past but now had no political affiliations. "We just genuinely want to help," he said.
A commission spokeswoman said it was reasonable for organisations with incomes of less than £5,000 to say they were charitable provided they did not say they were registered charities. She said people with political affiliations could establish charities provided the organisations did not have political purposes. The commission would treat Soldiers off the Street's application "in line with the registration criteria", she said.