Regular readers will recall that the UK Charity Commission is currently undertaking a statutory investigation of Watchtower’s UK arm, which is currently registered as a UK charity, and also of the New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, also registered as a UK charity.
The aim of the investigation is to uncover “how Watch Tower safeguards children and adults at risk.” The investigation comes as a response to an incident in the New Moston congregation, where former congregation elder and convicted sex offender Jonathan Rose was allowed to directly question his victims in a religious court, his victims being forced to attend as an apparent direct result of Watchtower policy.
Rather than co-operate with the investigation, which would have given a clear signal that Watchtower felt it had nothing to hide, the religious group has instead fought tooth and nail to get the investigation killed off, mounting multiple legal challenges in order to prevent the investigation from even taking place. We have reported on this investigation and Watchtower’s attempt to stop it on a number of occasions
Having failed its challenge at each and every juncture, Watchtower moved the process to the Court of Appeal. Here it again failed, but lastly made an application to the Supreme Court. This was apparently Watchtower’s final available legal move to stop the investigation.
However, it appears that this final attempt has also failed. Jonathan Sanders of the Charity Commission last week reported in a letter the following update:
We opened this inquiry in 2014. Watch Tower then initiated what turned out to be protracted litigation against us. We have robustly defended our position. We were right to open the inquiry. We have won our case in every court that has heard the matter, most recently in the Court of Appeal. Watch Tower then decided to try to appeal to the Supreme Court. I am pleased to tell you that I have learned today that the Supreme Court has rejected their application. This means that there are no more domestic routes of appeal open to Watch Tower. We are therefore going to be doing what we have been doing since 2014, which is continuing with our inquiries.
This is excellent news, as it means that the Commission will now be able to carry out a full enquiry, not only into the disturbing allegations concerning the New Moston congregation, but also of the wider conduct of Watchtower in the general area of child protection.
Given the disturbing findings of the 2015 Australian Royal Commission into the same area of Watchtower conduct, such an investigation clearly has no time to lose.