Charity Commission to ‘assess’ need for ‘Labour Lush’ inquiry

The Charity Commission has confirmed it has contacted trustees of the Food for All charity in the wake  of the Thanet ‘Lush’ row.

The charity, which works with people who are homeless, gave goods donated by cosmetics firm Lush to South Thanet Labour Party. Thanet councillor Karen Constantine, who is standing for this year’s county council election, sold off the goods for £415 during a ‘Lush night’ at the Churchill Tavern, initially aimed at raising cash for Labour’s county council election fight fund.

But, the donation broke rules preventing charities raising money for political parties.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “Concerns have been raised with the commission about the charity Food for All regarding the use of a donation. We have contacted the trustees in order to assess whether there is a regulatory role for the commission. No formal inquiry has, at this point, been opened.”

Lush donated a 100-ton of bath products to 38 charities earlier this year.

Among them was Food For All, based in North London, which provides 1,000 hot meals a day for the homeless.

Jennie Matthias, former lead singer of The Belle Stars and a Labour supporter, is also involved with the Food for All charity. She announced a donation to good causes, including the Labour Party.

The pub sale, organised by Cllr Constantine and her agent Kaz Peet, followed.

Cllr Constantine has since apologised, saying she was not aware of the charity laws.

In a statement on social media Ms Matthias said: “I had not realized when giving this out that there would be a prejudice to some groups and indeed that we are not allowed to do that as a charity, this was my mistake and mine only. I am saddened that my actions of giving to a group of people from the local Thanet Labour party have resulted in so much bad press for both them and us as they have not spent a penny of the proceeds on their campaign.”

A regional Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party has not breached electoral law and there is no allegation that the Party has broken any rules. However, once the situation regarding the donations became clear, the local Labour party have taken action and will not benefit financially from the donation.”