Military charity under investigation for anti-Islamic merchandise evicted from Victoria Shopping Centre
A controversial military charity had to be removed from the Victoria Shopping Centre after an ex-serviceman confronted fundraisers about their work.
The 1st Knight Military Charity set up in Harrogate on Tuesday November 22, despite it currently being investigated by fundraising watchdogs.
The BBC documentary, The Great Military Charity Scandal, revealed that the charity was selling Nazi-themed and anti-Islamic merchandise at its Blackpool headquarters.
Following their investigation, Colin Eastaway, 32, drove more than two hours from his Liverpool home to confront the two fundraisers over the offensive T-shirts and the charity’s practices.
He said: “I’ve got friends that are Muslims, you can’t just tar all Muslims with the same brush because they’re not all extremists. We don’t want that as soldiers – that’s not what we stand for.
“I’ve lost friends along the way, and friends have been seriously injured along the way so it’s close to my heart.
“That’s why I’m willing to jump in a car, drive to Harrogate and stick a camera in these lads’ faces and say ‘what are you doing?”.
In the video, Mr Eastaway repeatedly asked the two fundraisers how much they were being paid and how much of this would go to the Armed Forces.
After viewing the BBC footage, The Charity Commission confirmed it had opened a statutory inquiry into 1st Knight; the most serious form of investigation it can undertake.
The Victoria Shopping Centre confirmed, following Mr Eastaway’s complaints, the charity were then asked to leave.
A spokesperson said: “Our kiosks and spaces within the centre are let out on our behalf by a third party, and it would appear that this charity did satisfy all necessary criteria.
“We have a code of conduct which must be adhered to, and as soon as we learned that the charity was subject to allegations of this nature we took the decision that it was in the best interests of our shoppers to ask them to leave the premises whilst further investigations are carried out.”
1st Knight, which provides respite for wounded soldiers, apologised for the offensive merchandise but said it was not their intention to cause offence
A charity spokesperson said: “The merchandise includes clothing that is aimed at Islamic terrorism and could have been perceived as a direct attack on Muslims; however this was never our intention.
"In checking our sales ledger we have sold 30 T-Shirts and 50 badges of this nature. As a result of the BBC's intervention we have withdrawn the products from the shop and removed them from the internet.
"Small charities are run on a voluntary basis and inevitably mistakes are made from time to time. It would be unfortunate if, as a result of this program the activities of this very worthwhile charity were to be affected."
The charity said that one of its trustee, Mr Linihan, mistakenly purchased the T-shirts as a result of him suffering from dyslexia.
The spokesperson said: "We apologise for any upset this may have caused and please rest assured that corrective action has been taken in order to resolve matters.
"This includes the termination of Mr Linihan's appointment with the charity as his mistakes have brought the charities name into disrepute; however Mr Linihan cannot formally terminate until the Charity Commission has concluded their investigation."