The disabled head of a disability charity has been criticised by the charities watchdog after a full-page photograph of her was used – with her permission – in the Conservative party’s election manifesto.Ruth Owen, chief executive of Whizz-Kidz, is pictured in her wheelchair on page 44 of the manifesto, contravening strict rules on charities supporting particular political parties.The charity – which supports young disabled people to access the right mobility equipment – has defended her actions, arguing that she was not named in the manifesto and was appearing only as an “anonymous” disabled person and not as a representative of Whizz-Kidz.Owen was recognised with an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2012, but she insists that her appearance in the Tory manifesto (pictured) does not signify support for the party.The Charity Commission has now spoken to Whizz-Kidz about the photograph, after the picture was drawn to its attention by Disability News Service.A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “The charity has explained that Ruth Owen agreed for her photograph to appear in the manifesto as a private individual, on the basis that her name would not be included, and the charity would not be named.“We have advised the charity that, given the profile of Ruth Owen and of the charity, the inclusion of her photograph could potentially give rise to the impression that the charity has associated itself with or endorses a political party.“That would run counter to our guidance on campaigning and political activity, which makes clear that a charity must not give its support to any one political party and trustees must ensure perceptions of their independence are not adversely affected.“All charities must ensure that their independence is maintained, and perceptions of independence are not adversely affected. “As charity regulator we expect charity trustees to take account of this fundamental requirement as a core part of their decision-making processes.“We have sent the charity a reminder of our guidance and explained that this needs to be brought to the attention of the trustees.”The case has parallels with an investigation carried out by the commission after the last election in 2010.That complaint involved Debbie Scott, the chief executive of the employment charity Tomorrow’s People, whose full-page photograph – and comments – appeared in the Conservative manifesto.A report published by the commission following its investigation warned other charities: “Contributing to an election manifesto or any party political publication would have the inevitable result of providing or encouraging support for a particular political party, or at the very least, the perception of doing so.“As a charity cannot support or encourage support for any political party, the Commission is unable to see how a charity could demonstrate that it had sufficiently considered and managed all the risks arising from a decision to contribute to an election manifesto or party political publication.”A Whizz-Kidz spokesman said that Owen appeared only as “an anonymous member of the public; a female wheelchair-user”.He said: “When asked if she could have her photograph taken, it was under the assurance that neither her name, title, nor the organisation she works for would be cited. She was also informed she could keep the images for her own use.”He said that Owen was “not endorsing the Conservative Party by appearing in the image, nor – as demonstrated by an absence of comment, quote or recognition of the charity – is Whizz-Kidz”.He said Whizz-Kidz worked “across the political spectrum”, and in the last 12 months had presented a fundraising award to Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, and was involved in a fundraiser at Everton Football Club for shadow health secretary Andy Burnham’s own fund-raising marathon.He added: “In the past, we have sponsored the all-party parliamentary group for wheelchair reform, chaired by a Liberal Democrat MP; and we regularly hold fringe events at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences, as well as other parliamentary events with a range of MPs – giving disabled youngsters and their parents the chance to speak for themselves.”Owen has so far failed to say whether she was aware of the Charity Commission rules governing such situations when she agreed to the picture, and whether she will apologise for her decision to appear in the manifesto.
THIS month Hattons Solicitors are giving away a year’s FREE gym membership at Gymbug in St Helens to one lucky Hattons Gold member.In a time of News Year’s Resolutions you could get fit in the New Year with this great competition prize to be drawn in January 2013.What is Hattons Gold Membership?To enter this competition you need to join Hattons Gold Membership online. Anyone can join Hattons Gold Membership, as long as they have an email address that has not been used by anyone else to register, and are over 18.It’s completely free to join online giving members a variety of special offers and competitions from lots of business’ plus discounts for some of Hattons Solicitors legal services.How to Sign Up and Enter This CompetitionYou can sign up to Hattons Gold for free by clicking here.You will receive a welcome email followed by the monthly e-newsletter three days after signing up with details of how to enter the competition.You will only be sent an email with Hattons Gold offers once a month, there is no obligation to use Hattons services and your information will not be passed on to third parties.Deadline for registering with Hattons Gold and entering this competition is Friday January 11 2013.Please click here if you would like to find out more about Hattons Gold and the other special offers available.Enter today for your chance to win and good luck!Terms and ConditionsThis competition will end on Friday January 11 2013. The winner will be informed on Monday January 14 2013. Prizes are none transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash. Your contact details will not be passed onto any third parties. Winners will be contacted via email. Winners will have 30 days to claim their prize. If you would like further information about this competition or Hattons Gold then please call us on 08000 111 563 or email [email protected] the latest news from Hattons Solicitors join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter
MIKE Rush has been appointed CEO of St.Helens R.F.C.Mike has been with the Club for more than 13 years and in that time has held a number of senior positions including Head of Youth Development, Assistant Coach, Head Coach and, most recently, General Manager.Chairman Eamonn McManus stated: “Mike is ideally qualified and suited for the position of CEO of the Saints. He has extensive relevant experience in every area of the Club’s operations and has made a great success of all his roles at the Club over an extensive period.“His loyalty and talent are undoubted and he is totally committed to the success of the Saints as one of the world’s leading professional rugby league clubs.”Mike Rush added: “I’m delighted to take up the position of CEO at the Saints. I have been with the club a long time and I am looking forward to contributing to the next stage of its development.“I fully believe we are entering an exciting new era at the Saints. We have a fantastic new stadium at Langtree Park and a new training facility at Cowley International College and I am sure we are now well positioned to realise the best commercial return for the club both on and off the field.”
SAINTS have announced their 19-man squad for Friday’s First Utility Super League opener with Catalans Dragons at Langtree Park.Travis Burns and Atelea Vea are set to make their debuts whilst Andre Savelio has also been included in the 19.Luke Walsh, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Luke Thompson miss out through injury.Keiron Cunningham will choose from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Thomas Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Travis Burns, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 12. Jon Wilkin, 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Lance Hohaia, 17. Mark Percival, 19. Greg Richards, 20. Paul Wellens, 21. Joe Greenwood, 25. Andre Savelio.Laurent Frayssinous will select his Catalan side from:1. Morgan Escaré, 2. Vincent Duport, 3. Ben Pomeroy, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Todd Carney, 8. Olivier Elima, 9. Ian Henderson, 10. Rémi Casty, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Louis Anderson, 13. Gregory Mounis, 14. Thomas Bosc, 15. Jeff Lima, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 17. Elliott Whitehead, 18. Benjamin Garcia, 21. Julian Bousquet, 24. Jason Baitieri.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Phil Bentham.For ticket details please click here.
THE first team squad teamed up with Saints Community Development Foundation to spread a little festive cheer at Whiston Hospital.The lads made their annual trip to the Children’s Ward to meet patients, parents and staff, and drop off some Saintly gifts.We’d like to thank everyone at Whiston Hospital for making us welcome and we wish them all a Merry Christmas.