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Board turns down Greenpeace charity application, saying it carries out illegal activities

22 March 2018

The independent Charities Registration Board has turned down a Greenpeace application to be a registered charity, saying it does not advance exclusively charitable purposes.

The role of the independent Charities Registration Board is to maintain the integrity of the Charities Register by ensuring that entities on the Charities Register qualify for registration.

The Board says it makes its decisions based on the facts before it, applying the law including relevant case law. It says it must decline to register applications from organisations when they do not advance exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit.

The Board considers that Greenpeace has an independent purpose to promote its own particular views about the environment and other issues.

It says while Greenpeace has the freedom to communicate these particular views, to be registered as a charity and receive the benefits that flow from that registration, they must advance a public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable by the courts.  

The Board found that Greenpeace directly coordinates and authorises its members to carry out illegal activities, such as trespass on ships and buildings.  There is no evidence that Greenpeace has any processes in place to discourage its members from carrying out illegal activities.

The Board considers the illegal activities form a pattern of behaviour from which an illegal purpose can be inferred. Greenpeace’s illegal purpose means that it is disqualified from registration as a charity.

“It is the Board’s view that they do not,” says Charities Registration Board spokesperson, Simon Karipa.

“The Board also considers that Greenpeace and its members are involved in illegal activities from which an illegal purpose can be inferred. Greenpeace’s illegal purpose disqualifies it from being registered as a charity,” he says.

In April 2010 the former Charities Commission made the decision to decline Greenpeace’s application for registration because it did not advance exclusively charitable purposes. The decision was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court by Greenpeace. In August 2014 the Supreme Court directed the Board to reconsider Greenpeace’s application in light of changes to Greenpeace’s stated purposes and its own judgment.

This new decision represents the Board’s reconsideration of Greenpeace’s application for registration.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019