30th May, 2014 by Lauren Eads
UK charity Comic Relief has brought an end to its investment in alcohol, arms and tobacco firms following an investigation by BBC documentary series, Panorama.
Following the programme, which aired in December last year and called into question the charity’s apparent conflicted interests, bosses spent two months reviewing its investment policy announcing this week that it was to cease investing in alcohol, tobacco and fire arms.
Comic Relief invests millions of pounds in the stock market to ensure it is able to deliver funds to charities over several years.
Diageo was one of the largest alcohol firms to receive investment from the charity, which investigators said compromised the “core values” of Comic Relief, along with investments in tobacco and arms.
The review panel, headed by John Kingston, chairman of the Association of Charitable Foundations, made five recommendations which included promises to be more transparent and increase its social investment.
Another recommendation was that Comic Relief should only ban investment in sectors that “directly conflict with its vision”, or bring the most “reputational risk”, adding that “trustees should aim for only a small number of absolute prohibitions”.
Tim Davie, the chairman of Comic Relief, said: “We now have an investment policy that is firmly in line with the ethos of the charity.
“Public trust is the cornerstone of Comic Relief and we would be nothing without our many supporters to whom we have listened and will keep listening.”
Following the airing of the programme, Diageo corporate relations director Allison Dowling told the spirits business: “Diageo strongly refutes any suggestion that Comic Relief’s ambition to work to reduce alcohol misuse is in some way at odds with its own mission in promoting responsible drinking.”
Diageo said it would not be issuing a comment about the latest action but that it stood by its previous claim.
Comic Relief has raised nearly £1bn for worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad since it began in 1985.