Friday, 13 March 2015

Comic Relief accused of misleading donors

Playing for laughs: Damian Lewis and Dawn French during this year's Red Nose Day
Damian Lewis and Dawn French

"Comic Relief was yesterday accused of misleading donors by investing millions of pounds raised during televised appeals in tobacco, alcohol and the arms industry."

"The charity – which claims that ‘every penny’ given by the public helps good causes – pumps cash into the companies even as it backs projects to help victims of smoking-related illnesses, alcohol abuse and war."

"According to a BBC Panorama expose, the charity is also sitting on £100 million donated by the public and refuses to say how the money is being invested."

"The returns on the charity’s investments are used to fund its ballooning running costs, which have hit £17million a year, largely because its wage bill has nearly doubled in four years."

"The damning revelations will be made tonight in a Panorama investigation which was initially shelved for two months because executives at the Corporation were anxious about offending the Comic Relief bosses."

"The programme, called All in a Good Cause, will be shown at 10.35pm, two hours later than Panorama normally airs."

"It also claims Save the Children censored its criticism of the energy industry because of its cosy relationship with British Gas and EDF, and alleges Amnesty misled the public over £800,000 payoffs to two former bosses..."

"Unlike Children in Need and most other major charities, it has put substantial sums into firms selling arms, alcohol and tobacco – even though these conflict with its stated aims of fighting alcohol abuse, conflict and the consequences of smoking."

"There is a whiff of hypocrisy from such aggressive investing, and it gets worse – for Comic Relief is growing fat on the profits, which are used in part to pay high salaries and boost staff numbers."

"Its wage bill nearly doubled in four years to £13million: its chief executive’s soaring salary stands at £130,823 and another five senior staff earn more than £90,000. This is bad enough, although unsurprising in the bloated aid sector."

"But the relationship between the BBC and Comic Relief raises a far more fundamental issue: why does the state broadcaster devote vast slabs of valuable schedules to promote the aid industry’s fiercely contested world view?"

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