A charity has been censured for accusing an MP of fuelling racist abuse after she condemned the sexual abuse of girls by British Pakistani men.
Just West Yorkshire, a racial justice charity, said Sarah Champion’s comments in The Sun had led to an “increase in verbal and physical racist abuse”.
The Charity Commission also reprimanded it for “unbalanced research” and “concerning lack of transparency”.
The Labour MP said it had provided “huge relief” and “vindication”.
The charity’s attack on Ms Champion, MP for Rotherham, came after she put her name to a bylined piece in the newspaper in 2017 that Britain “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.
The comments proved controversial, and at the time were heavily criticised by the charity, which was founded in Bradford in 2007 to improve race relations.
In 2018, it published a report which claimed an online survey had found the MP’s article had led to an “increase in verbal and physical racist abuse”.
However, the Charity Commission found Just West Yorkshire’s own research could not justify accusing Ms Champion of inciting racial hatred and criticised it for not giving her right of reply.
Ms Champion said when the report was published, “it felt like a targeted smear campaign – designed to drive a wedge between myself and the community I serve.”
She added: “The Charity Commission report provides a huge relief, vindication and draws a line under a very unpleasant period.”
The regulator also criticised the charity for a separate report which called for the abolition of the government’s anti-extremism programme, Prevent.
It said it “was not clear how the research was balanced to take into account differing views and opinions”.
The investigation also found that two trustees received “unauthorised payments” from the charity’s funds, with one paid £6,000 to work on the Rethinking Prevent report.
They also found “no evidence that conflicts of interest were managed, and no agreements or contracts were in place”.
Trustees are not meant to receive any benefit from their charity, unless it is properly authorised and is clearly in their charity’s interests.
Last September, the regulator said it intended to issue an official warning to the charity but before that happened the trustees had dissolved the charity.
In response to the report, Nadeem Murtuja, listed as a former director of the charity and now executive director for communities and customer at Oxford City Council, said “at all times I acted in accordance with my obligations as a trustee”.
He added: “The ‘former trustee’ referred to in receipt of £6,000 was not myself, and nor did I have any official involvement with the charity during the period when that payment was made.”
Mr Murtuja said: “However, I respect the viewpoint of the Charity Commission.”