The Charity Commission has today published updates to Chapter 5 of its guidance ‘Protecting charities from harm’, which supports charity trustees to manage some of the challenges associated with hosting speakers and debates.
In our evidence and response to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into freedom of speech in universities, we committed to updating this guidance as we recognised it has not always been read in the manner in which it was intended. The Commission’s published guidance sets out areas of charity law and practice, and assists trustees in the practical application of key principles.
In publishing the updated guidance, Aarti Thakor, Director of Legal Services at the Charity Commission said:
“Charitable students’ unions and higher education providers play a vital role in providing space for discussion and debate, encouraging students to develop political awareness, to challenge their own views and perceptions and to exchange ideas on a range of issues.
It is clear that freedom of speech can be integral to charities’ activities in carrying out educational purposes. However it is known that freedom of speech is a qualified right and it must not be used as an excuse to fall short on legal duties. In engaging with and providing these important opportunities for their members, trustees must ensure they put their charity’s best interests first, and limit any undue risk of harm.
We want to see all charities thrive for the betterment of the communities they serve. This updated guidance will help trustees ensure balance and make good decisions, bolstering their positive impact on society.”