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October 22, 2015

U.K. Muslim Group and Charity Watchdog Settle Donations Case

Muslim human rights group Cage has withdrawn its legal case against Britain's Charity Commission as the regulatory body agreed not to restrict nonprofits' ability to donate to the controversial organization, The Guardian and the BBC report. The settlement followed a High Court hearing in which a judge termed it "ludicrous" that the matter had reached the bench.

Cage sought the judicial review contending that the commission overstepped its authority in pressuring two charities, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation, in March to stop funding the Muslim group. The regulatory scrutiny came after a Cage leader said publicly that harassment by British security services had radicalized Mohammed Emwazi, a Londoner believed to be the Islamic State executioner "Jihadi John," with whom the group had earlier had contact.

The Rowntree trust joined the case as an "interested party," saying it was effectively ordered to stop funding Cage, to which it had granted about $417,000 from 2007 to 2014. The commission had argued that it was acting within its authority to advise nonprofits but agreed in the settlement that it "does not seek to fetter charities' exercise of discretion whether to fund the charitable activities of Cage for all time, regardless of future changing circumstances."

The regulatory agency contacted the Rowntree and Roddick groups about their Cage giving days after commission Chairman William Shawcross was told by U.S. counter-terrorism officials that the activist group was a "jihadist front," The Guardian also reports.