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This monograph examines the content, development, application, rationale and reform of the legal prohibition that prevents charities from undertaking or pursuing political activities which are more than subsidiary to their charitable purpose. As service providers or ports of last call, charities and their regulatory framework at both theoretical and practical levels are faced with difficult questions regarding accountability, governance, independence and conflicts of interest. This is particularly so given the rise in the importance of the charitable and wider voluntary sector over the last decade; the much lauded search for a ‘third way’; and the blurring of the distinction between the public and private sectors.
Central to all these issues lies the political nature of charities and the extent to which that political nature can be utilised. The law governing political activity of charities has not been subjected to systematic study in extant legal literature. There has been little jurisprudential analysis of the prohibition against political and campaigning activities of charities, the case law development, the rationales put forward for and against the prohibition. The monograph analyses the prohibition in English charity law and in so doing undertakes a comparative analysis of the treatment of political activities in other areas of law (such as the law of extradition, broadcasting law, electoral law and human rights law) and a comparative analysis of the same issues in the jurisdictions of Australia, Canada and the USA. This monograph concludes with a framework for reform which will be of interest to academics, practitioners and policy makers.