This is a cross post from Nothing British About the BNP
On the 26th August 2010 the Charities Commission authorised Soldiers off the Street (charity number: 1137594) to become an official charity. According to SOTS’ website, it claims to help homeless veterans by providing them with “clothing, food and rehabilitation, including advice on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, housing and employment.”
However, SOTS is not an ordinary veterans charity. SOTS, which is based in Wrexham, Wales, has extensive links to the far-Right movement such as the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL).
SOTS’s trustees have extensive links to the far-Right
We have written about SOTS before, but below is a quick recap.
Bill Murray, the Director of SOTS, was a former commander of the BNP’s Welsh division. Mr Murray’s Facebook page shows him being in contact with hundreds of far-Right activists, including the BNP, EDL and the neo-Nazi organisations Blood & Honour and Combat-18 – over a year after he says he left the BNP. Individuals he lists as “friends” include:
1. Eddy Butler – Leadership contender for the BNP with a long history of fascism.
2. Mark Collett – The neo-Nazi former Head of BNP Publicity and senior member of Butler’s campaign team.
3. Jeff Marsh (Joe Cardiff) – Head of the Welsh Defence League (WDL).
4. Amit Singh – The EDL’s Sikh Press Officer.
5. Bryan Powell – A Nazi saluting member and steward from the WDL’s Swansea division with extensive links to Combat-18.
Besides Mr and Mrs Murray, the Commission’s files on SOTS show that two other trustees also have extensive links to the far-Right: “Lord” Daniel McDonald and Paul Jones.
Daniel McDonald, who is not a hereditary peer or a member of the House of Lords, is a Sussex based businessman and director of Easy Security Services Ltd. In May 2010, Mr McDonald was a BNP parliamentary candidate for Horsham during the General Election. However, he unexpectedly dropped out from the campaign a few weeks before polling day. Mr McDonald also has a history of using threats and intimidation against members of the public. In March 2010, Mr McDonald contacted Nothing British by telephone and email to abuse one of its members of staff and issued threats in order to remove all references to him from our website linking him to Mr Murray’s SOTS.
Furthermore, SOTS’ website continues to say that it is working in association with FEBA, the BNP backed veterans operation in Scotland, which was exposed by The Times in September 2009.
Nothing British warned the Charities Commission about SOTS’ far-Right links in September 2009
On 22nd September 2009, Nothing British wrote to the Charities Commission to “urgently investigate” SOTS for claiming that it was applying to become a charity, which at the time was not the case, when soliciting funds from members of the public. We said: “… as any delay [in investigating] would undermine the good work [of] charitable organizations and the excellent work of the Commission.” Our concern was that SOTS was attempting to obtain funds from members of the public, who might believe that its’ charitable status was merely a formality.
On 6th October 2009, the Charities Commission wrote to Nothing British to say that as far as it was concerned, SOTS had done nothing wrong “in stating its aspirations to be registered as a charity”. The Commission confirmed that “no application to register Soldiers off the Street as a charity has yet been received by us.” It concluded: “… substantial evidence would need to be provided to us in order to prove a charitable organisation has been established for any other purpose than furthering its objects (i.e. furthering the aims of a particular political party).”
Write to the Charities Commission or your MP to complain about this decision
Nothing British has already written to a number of senior Ministers and MPs to complain about the Commission’s decision and highlighted our concerns about the lack of transparency behind the charity. Why don’t you do the same? You can contact the Commission at:
Charity Commission Direct
PO Box 1227
If you’re writing to your local MP you can find all the relevant local information here on the BBC’s Direct Democracy site or direct at the House of Commons.