Portsmouth charity in hot water after CEO backs Tory candidate in election leaflet

Portsmouth South Conservative candidate Flick Drummond
Portsmouth South Conservative candidate Flick Drummond
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A CHARITY is in hot water after its CEO was quoted endorsing a parliamentary candidate.

Jennie Brent, CEO of Portsmouth-based charity Beneficial Foundation and Tory city councillor, was quoted on election literature urging voters to elect Tory candidate Flick Drummond as MP for Portsmouth South.

I apologise for any misunderstanding about this. It was simply a human error with the leaflet

Flick Drummond, Conservative candidate for Portsmouth South

This breaches guidance set by the Charity Commission which states specifically that no charity must encourage support for any particular party or candidate.

The leaflet read: ‘I have known Flick for many years. She works really hard for the community in Portsmouth, knows what is going on and very much wants to make a difference locally. Her work tackling homelessness in the city is making good progress. So I urge you to vote for Flick on June 8.’

Mrs Drummond has since told The News that the fault was ‘human error’ and was made by her campaign team – who produced the literature.

She said: ‘I apologise for any misunderstanding about this. It was simply a human error with the leaflet.

‘We will not be putting out any more leaflets in Portsmouth South.’

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat candidate for the seat said he was ‘surprised’ by the error.

He said: ‘For the last two years, Flick has been an MP making laws. She should really know better before breaking one.’

Stephen Morgan, Labour candidate for the seat said: ‘These things can happen during an election campaign. I am surprised considering the money and generic leaflets the Tories and Lib Dems are pumping out of London for the people of Portsmouth.

‘All our election material is written by local people for local people.’

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: ‘Our guidance on charities, elections and referendums is clear that a charity must not give support or funding to a candidate. We will be contacting the Beneficial Foundation regarding the leaflet to obtain more information and determine whether regulatory action is necessary.

Ms Brent was unavailable for comment.

What does the Charity Commission say?

THE Charity Commission regulates charities across England and Wales.

In the run-up to the election, the commission provides guidance to all charities on what they can and cannot publish.

With any publicity material provided by the charity in election season, it can promote its views on issues but it must stick clear of explicitly comparing its views with those of political parties or candidates taking part in the election.

It may publish the views of candidates where these views relate to the charity’s purposes where publishing them will raise public interest and debate about the underlying issues.

However, a charity must explicitly not encourage support for any political party or its candidates.