The UK Charity Commission is currently undertaking a statutory investigation of Watchtower’s UK arm, which is currently registered as a UK charity, and also of the New Moston Congregation, also registered as a charity. The aim of the investigation to uncover “how Watch Tower safeguards children and adults at risk.” The investigation comes as a response to an incident in the New Moston congregation, where former congregation elder and convicted sex offender Jonathan Rose was allowed to directly question his victims in a religious court, his victims being forced to attend as an apparent direct result of Watchtower policy.
Rather than co-operate with the investigation, which would have given a clear signal that Watchtower felt it had nothing to hide, the religious group has instead fought tooth and nail to get the investigation killed off, mounting multiple legal challenges in order to prevent the investigation from even taking place. Having failed it’s challenge at each and every juncture, the process has now moved to the Court of Appeal.
On February 10th, the Charity Commission issued a statement defending it’s investigation. It states, in part:
The commission is investigating how Watch Tower safeguards children and adults at risk. It has been seeking access to the registered charity’s records since 2014. Watch Tower disputes the legal basis of the commission’s inquiry and its order seeking documents from the charity. Today’s hearing forms part of its longstanding litigation against the commission. The commission has argued that the Charity Tribunal is the appropriate venue for such cases. It has warned that if the Court rules otherwise, it may risk excluding less well-funded charities from accessing justice via the less costly Tribunal.
As is made clear, Watchtower, a registered charity, for some reason does not want the Charity Commission to have access to its records. Those who have been following this issue for some time understand very well why Watchtower is so desperate for these records to remain in the shadows.
The Charity Commission statement adds
“It encourages people who have been affected by safeguarding in congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in England and Wales to make contact with the inquiry lead investigator Jonathan Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org“
We encourage anyone with experience of the above to please contact the commission.