Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Has Guido finally got the Smith Institute?

Well, it seems he is getting closer. Guido Fawkes has this article on his blog tonight, highlighting a piece on BBC 2's Newsnight tonight.

Apparently Guido has been requested to hand over what he has on the Sith Smith Institute by close of business on Thursday the 25th of January. In return the Charity Commissioner has handed Guido a 2 inch thick answer to a freedom of information request.

However unfortunately Guido does not use labels so I can't link to all he has done on the subject easily. Also Guido has not quite fully explained the background. It is this:

The Smith Institute is apparently a charitable foundation formed as a think tank in memory of John Smith, the Labour party leader between 1992 and 1994, who died of a heart attack. (As in the one before Tony Blair).

Why is it a charity? Well, being a charity has large tax advantages. If you get given money on gift aid, you can get the tax the donor has paid off the treasury as well, boosting your coffers even more. Lots of charities do it, and it is effectively free money for them, and fair enough.

Guido's problem is that he believes they are a politically partisan organisation, organising seminars at No 11 Downing street and getting special access for its donors.

Now if that were correct, then the Smith institute is in big trouble as are all who may then be connected to it. This may end up including people close to Gordon Brown.

This is after all the second time the Charity Commission has investigated the Sith Smith Institute, and they seem to be looking closely.

Some interesting facts of note, in the last 6 months there have been 20 meetings at No 11 by "Charities", of which 11 or 12 were by the Smith Institute and the rest by 8 or 9 other charities. No other think tanks met there at all.

Of course this is just an investigation and it should be noted that any investigation is looking to find the truth, and may well exonerate the Smith Institute.

Of course this does raise issues of why think tanks should be charities at all.

Update 25th January 2007, 14:34

Guido has a video of the Newsnight piece here, whilst the Guardian has a piece on it here.

Update again at 15:58

Guido now has this post with links to all his stories on the Smith Institute.

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