LEYTON: Charity Commission blamed for bitter mosque dispute (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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LEYTON: Charity Commission blamed for bitter mosque dispute
9:32am Tuesday 24th February 2009 in News
THE row over control of the Waltham Forest Islamic Association (WFIA) continues to rage as new allegations have come to light.
Members of the current committee of the (WFIA), which runs Lea Bridge Road Mosque, have claimed that the Charity Commission stopped them from having elections in 2007 and 2008 following complaints from the opposition group, even though they were willing to hold them.
Committee member Imtiaz Qadir, 51, of The Drive, Walthamstow, said: “This is where the whole mess started. If we could just hold elections, the whole issue would go away.”
And members of the opposition group have claimed they were threatened after celebrating being allowed back into Lea Bridge Road mosque, Leyton, following being barred in January.
Khalid Malik, 38, of Sunnyside Road, Leyton, who was one of those barred, said: “I was told to calm down and after that, I was told I would have my face smashed in.”
Police have stated no such reports were made but confirmed they were investigating a public order offence alleged to have taken place in Lea Bridge Road after members of the group contacted them.
A spokeswoman for Waltham Forest police said: “On February 19 at about 2.30pm, the victim, a 70-year-old man, alleges he was chased in Lea Bridge Road by a male suspect.
“The victim entered a shop and when he came out, the suspect had left.”
The rival groups at the mosque have been in mediation over who should be in control of the association and its funding, but no agreement has yet been reached.
According to the Charity Commission, there are currently no properly elected trustees and an inquiry has been launched into the WFIA's purchase of a property in Grove Road, Walthamstow.
In 2007, the WFIA was 124 days late submitting its accounts to the Charity Commission.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “The committee advised the Charity Commission in December 2007 that they had deemed it unsafe to hold the elections planned for November 2007.
“At that point, an election could not constitutionally be called because there were no longer any validly appointed charity trustees.
"In March 2008 the Commission extended its authority by order to appoint interim trustees to call an independently supervised election by May 2008.
"The Commission received a request to review the decision to make this order and due to a technicality it had to be discharged.
"In any event, the charity had not taken steps towards an election and it would therefore not have been possible for one to have been held within the timeframe specified.
“The Commission proposed to make a further order, appointing representatives of both groups to be charity trustees.
"The groups were unable to agree a way forward and were advised to seek mediation and revert to us once agreement had been reached.
“An inquiry has not been opened into the dispute, but a separate inquiry has been opened into the recent purchase of property by the Charity.”
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