NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016.
Gladstone’s Library has been told to seek legal advice over a row with the Welsh Ukip after a photograph of the library and its founder were used on the party’s Welsh Assembly manifesto leaflet.
The Hawarden library dedicated to 19th Century Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone complained to the Charity Commission, a government department which regulates registered charities in England and Wales, that a picture of the historic library and of the statue of Gladstone that stands in front of the building had been used with out their permission.
Peter Francis the warden of the library also complained to the commission about a tweet from a Ukip candidate claiming that Gladstone’s supported the party.
At the time Gladstone’s, a registered charity since 1989, issued a press release stating:
“The policies and principles on which UKIP is based are far from the ideals of William Gladstone,”
“Gladstone was an internationalist and profoundly believed that the ‘sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows are as inviolable in the eye of Almighty God as can be your own’.
“That is to say he felt that the unity of human beings throughout the world was vitally important and ‘not limited by the shores of this island.”
“would like to reiterate that it supports no political party but upholds ‘liberal values’ wherever it sees them.
“To imply Gladstone’s support for their cause, as this UKIP photo clearly does, is to devalue the memory and legacy of William Gladstone
Following press release publication there was a substantial reaction via social media the report states with 22,000 tweets, and 7,438 Facebook comments made on the topic.
“The first part of the press release where the charity asserted a lack of permission for the use of the photograph was correct.
“However, the expression of a view of UKIP in the press release made it a political statement and unintentionally drew the charity into a party political debate.
“We gave regulatory advice to the charity on campaigning and political activity and we recommended that the charity take legal advice.
The commission also advised Gladstone’s to removed the press release and issued a statement clarifying their position.
Gladstone’s said it will discuss the commission’s guidance on campaigning and political activity at their next AGM.
The report goes on to say:
“A charity must always guard its independence and ensure that any involvement it has with politicalparties is balanced, this is especially important during the time of an election.
“The guiding principle of charity law in terms of elections is that charities must be, and be seen to be, independent from party politics. A charity must steer clear of explicitly comparing its views (favourably or otherwise) with those of the political parties or candidates.