Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Cage

JRCT has defended its past funding of the campaign group Cage

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) has defended its past funding of the campaign group Cage.

In a press conference last week Asim Qureshi, research director of Cage, accused the security services of contributing to the ‘radicalisation’ of Mohammed Emwazi, the British militant who has featured in a number of Islamic State propaganda videos.

His comments prompted media coverage which revealed that Cage had, several years ago, received substantial funding from JRCT and the Roddick Foundation. The organisation does not presently receive any grants from JRCT.

The Charity Commission has compliance cases open into JRCT and the Roddick Foundation.

A government web site states: ‘In both cases the commission’s regulatory concerns revolve around how the trustees have ensured that charitable grants made to non-charitable bodies are only used for exclusively charitable purposes in line with their objectives.

‘This regulatory engagement has included robustly examining each charity’s decisions to previously make grants to Cage, which is not a charity. Public statements made in the last few days by Cage raise clear questions for a charity considering funding its activities as to how they could comply with their legal duties as charity trustees’.

The Trust made a grant payment of £135,000 to the organisation in November 2011 for ‘promoting human rights in the UK and abroad’, although the programme is no longer running. A total of £305,000 in grants was given by JRCT to Cage in recent years. The last payment was made in January 2014.

The Trust issued a statement last week that said: ‘We believe that they [Cage] have played an important role in highlighting the ongoing abuses at Guantanamo Bay and at many other sites around the world, including many instances of torture.’

It declared that, as a Quaker trust, it rejected and condemned all violence, including all violence for political ends: ‘We believe that building sustainable security requires patient, long-term work to address the underlying causes of conflict and injustice.’

It also said the Trust did not necessarily agree with every action or statement of any group that it had funded, but stressed: ‘We believe that Cage is asking legitimate questions about security service contact with those who have gone on to commit high-profile and horrific acts of violence, but this does not in any way absolve any such individual from responsibility for such criminal acts.’

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