June 15: These charities cannot be absolved from blame

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From: William Dixon Smith, Welland Rise, Acomb, York.

MY disenchantment with registered charities began many years ago, and I think it would be no bad idea if the Prime Minister were to look into the whole matter of organisations which claim charitable status (The Yorkshire Post, June 10).

The tragic death of the truly charitable Olive Cooke has revealed that many “charities” are businesses with quite questionable ethical standards.

Hitherto, because of their “Brothers Cheerable” image, charities have generally escaped censure. Now, sceptics who had hitherto suppressed their misgivings at last feel able to speak out. Some time ago, I was approached by a frail, elderly lady in considerable distress. A national charity regularly sent her books of unsolicited draw-tickets. As she was never able to sell them, she felt obliged to buy them herself; an act of self-denial which she was ill able to afford. On hearing this, I immediately wrote to the charity concerned. The harassment stopped, but I continued to be targeted. The charity concerned was undoubtedly directly to blame for this unhappy person’s distress. I cannot accept Mrs Abbott’s view that “these organisations are in no way to blame” for Olive Cooke’s death.

All that has to be ascertained is their degree of culpability.