After the coverage in Private Eye magazine, and the mentions in the national press, suspicions were raised as to whether the Legatum Institute really was the charity that it claimed to be. Charities, it should be borne in mind, are not permitted to engage in political activity. The Legatum Institute’s recent behaviour suggests it may be doing just that, and the Charity Commission is therefore examining its activities.
These two are heading up a charity. Allegedly
It was before this backdrop that someone at the Legatum Group - which is supposed to be a separate entity from the Legatum Institute - yesterday Tweeted “The media attention on the @LegatumInst foundation and the #Legatum group is part of a coordinated campaign to reverse the results of the Brexit referendum. Read our statement here [link]”. The Tweet was subsequently deleted. It was, sadly for Legatum, not deleted quickly enough.
And that charity is independent of this investment firm
Worse, Legatum’s statement, linked from that Tweet, is still there, and contains this opening paragraph: “The media attention on The Legatum Institute Foundation and the Legatum Group is part of a coordinated campaign to reverse the results of the Brexit referendum. It is being driven by well-funded and outspoken political operatives who are campaigning to reverse the results of the Brexit referendum and damage anyone who is seen to contribute constructively to the need for creative solutions at a time of national transition”. What is the Legatum Institute doing contributing to “creative solutions”?
OH WHAT A GIVEAWAY
On top of that, who is calling “well-funded” on whom? Legatum operates from offices in London’s Mayfair, which suggests they are not exactly slumming it. Moreover, who’s talking of “outspoken political operatives” when the Legatum Institute - a supposed charity, remember - is fronted by the likes of Matthew Elliott, ex Vote Leave and ex TPA?
Legatum endorses Legatum Institute ...
There is more. Legatum’s statement continues “Today, the Sunday Times highlights that those calling for an inquiry into the Legatum Group and The Legatum Institute Foundation are ‘Remainer MPs’. In addition, a leading voice in this informal campaign is tax barrister, Jolyon Maugham, QC, whom the Sunday Times’ sister paper, the Times, yesterday credited with campaigning ‘to reverse Brexit’ and who wants to ‘review’ the Institute’s status. Their goal is to undo Brexit, and their tactics include what the Sunday Times alluded to as ‘dirty tricks’ (3rd December, 2017)”. Pot and kettle situation here.
... while Legatum Institute endorses Legatum
We should take the Murdoch press - under the control of someone who is viciously anti-EU and whose bid for total control of Sky has benefited enormously from the post-referendum weakness of Sterling - as gospel, including the opinions contained therein. Er, no.
Moreover, Jo Maugham is merely putting questions to which he deserves an answer, rather than this attempt to deflect, which is reminiscent of the obfuscation and tendency to play the victim exhibited by the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance when Elliott was active in that group’s campaigns - some of which can fairly be said to have contained “dirty tricks”.
Maugham’s probing bears repetition. His four main points are, First: “The Charity Commission sought and obtained assurances that @LegatumInst and @Legatum would be independent. So why is the latter tweeting in support of the former?”
Second, “If @LegatumInst really is delivering an educational and non-political purpose why does @Legatum think attacks on the former serve a political objective?”.
Third, “The motives of those questioning the lawfulness of @LegatumInst's activities are irrelevant. The question is whether they are lawful. I believe, on expert advice, they are not. If they are not why should my motivations give @LegatumInst a free pass to break the law?”
And Fourth, “For the record I can show I wrote about abuses of charity law prior to the referendum. I'd respectfully suggest @LegatumInst focus on acting lawfully rather casting misconceived aspersions”. Quite.
The Charity Commission is, on this sample of behaviour, quite right to examine the behaviour of the Legatum Institute, and whether it really is the charity it claims to be. And those asking questions about that behaviour are fully entitled to do so, without Matthew Elliott and his pals throwing around accusations of “dirty tricks”.
Someone here is protesting too much. More on this one later.