Church investigated by charity watchdog over claims pastors pressured congregants into selling blood for donations

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scandal-hit church is being investigated by the charity watchdog over claims that pastors pressured young congregants into selling their blood for money to donate to the church.

The Charity Commission today announced that it had opened an inquiry into SPAC Nation, based in London, to probe financial and safeguarding concerns.

The commission, which describes the church as a charity set up to “advance Christianity” and that works particularly with young people, has ordered it to bank all cash while the investigation takes place.

The announcement comes after HuffPost UK reported allegations that some members of the church had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as “bleeding for seed”.

The publication reported that that some members go to donate blood and are paid up to £100 by medical trial companies. This money is then handed by the young people over to the church’s pastors.

The church, which denies the claims, has previously been praised by politicians for its work to tackle knife crime and gang violence.

However SPAC Nation was already embroiled in allegations that some of its pastors pressured young people to take out loans to donate to the church, revealed by a HuffPost UK investigation last month. 

The commission said a case had been opened on SPAC Nation in April last year, and in November this year information received from the trustees “raised further concerns about the charity’s financial controls, policy and procedures”.

In a statement, it added: “Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash.

“As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.

“The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity.”

The commission said it opened the inquiry to “examine matters furthers” after allegations emerged that individuals had been encouraged to give money to the charity by “taking on personal debt”.

A Charity Commission spokesman said: “The issues that have been raised related to SPAC Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate.

“The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts.

“We will seek to provide assurance to the public and the community that these matters will be considered fully and, where necessary, resolved.”

A report with the commission’s findings is expected to be published once the investigation is concluded.

Written by: Gabriella Swerling

First published 13.12.19: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/13/church-investigated-charity-watchdog-claims-pastors-pressured/

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