London Rates Relief Based Talk

Discussion in 'Scientology Property Tax' started by Bluebell, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Anonymous Member

  2. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Feel free but it might not be needed as the person they mention threatening them with judicial review is me already in any case.

    More recently, a particular individual has submitted multiple requests and others have joined the campaign, one of whom has threatened a judicial review of the decision to grant relief on the basis that public benefit has not been properly considered in the light of the Charity Commission’s statutory guidance.
  3. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk


    yes, I noticed that. :) nice of them to put a shout-out to you in the minutes.

    I think a formal 'letter before action' would display a seriousness that would make them quail.

    Or if they don't actually quail then it would be a genuine step on the path towards a judicial review - can't put the court papers in until you've done a letter before action - it's in the pre-action protocol.
  4. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Dear Pamelia.

    I would like you, in the absence of Mike, to witness how the City of London Corporation flouts the law of the land by granting mandatory rates relief, not on the basis of justice, but rather to avoid litigation and in so doing has awarded vast sums of public money to the Church of Scientology at a time of great austerity where the poor and disadvantaged of the UK must suffer hardship.

    Esco Text Retrieval System

    In this particular case, the members voted to keep mandatory rates relief (search on "resolved").

    Procedures for granting and revoking rates relief - WhatDoTheyKnow

    Perhaps, like me, you do not consider this to be just.

    Yours sincerely,
    Roland Rashleigh-Berry

    Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: CoL Finance Committee document concerning mandatory rates relief to Scientology
    Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2010 18:25:13 +0100

    I am out of the office until 18 October 2010. If your query is urgent, please contact Pamelia Forde on 0844 798 2304 or email

    Any freedom of information requests should be sent direct to

  5. Random guy Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    To me, this reads like it is time to go to the politicians rather than to the administration. The CoL has elected to neglect the initial recommendation of the Charity Commission, and now is in a position where they fear to follow the newer recommendation due to threat of litigation.

    I do not think this is what the politicians had in mind when they sat down the Charity Commission. Being an exempt charity should not put CoS beyond the law, as they effectively are by now.
  6. Sponge Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Note that they make a weak case for comparing costs of granting relief and costs of litigation. They cite a figure for just one years worth of relief. If they fought the cult in the high court 4+ years ago then they would have easily saved money by now. If not then it would only be a matter of time before they did.
    They seem to imply that entering into litigation would be unpolular with the local constituents yet wasting around £300,000 every year apparently seems to be easier to swallow, regardless of the fact that the cost is now in the region of £1.3millon over the 4 years since relief was granted....and counting....and without external pressure it shows no sign of ever being challenged with the current council mentality.

    Note for future reference. if you want to waste money in CoL council then keep it to around £300,00 p/a and nobody will notice or care.
  7. Lacelotte Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I've finally caught up on all of this after time away fighting elsewhere but fantastic work Roland and others!

    CoL really are looking for clarification from central government. However I also picked up on the fact that CoL were only taking one year of income into consideration when weighing up the costs so this also needs to be ran with.

    I have a good friend who was elected into parliament this year so I think it's time to call in a favour to pay me back for the time I put in for his campaign :eek:) Thankfully all of your previous hard work on pulling together this info will speed the process up and will make it more likely for your local politicians to pick the case up.

    I'll speak to him in tomorrow if I can get hold of him and let you know of the outcome.

  8. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    How about the councillors on the CoL finance committee who made the recent decision?

    Seems to me the report that we've seen was rather one-sided. They need the full story.

    Committee details
  9. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    that would be very handy.

    one thing he could do, as a sitting MP, is write to the central government department which CoL consulted (Local Government?) to get all the details of their opinion.

    also the Charity Commission's letter to CoL saying that they think COSREC is 'not for public benefit' would be very useful.

    an MP's letter carries a lot more weight with Whitehall than a member of the public's.
  10. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    It's the perfect time to go to the newspapers.

    Edit: Oops - I forgot I was Roland de Roncevaux for a moment.

    Edit2: However you spell it but it would be bad to say we should let the newspapers let rip.
  11. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    So these are the people who stole from the poor and disabled?
  12. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    IMO that's not the right approach.

    We want to lobby them effectively, we need to assume that they're good people who simply aren't as well informed as us on this issue (and who is?).

    We should assume they're acting in good faith (which I personally think they are), otherwise we'll simply piss them off and set their position in stone.

    The report that we have seemed to me very one-sided. It emphasised the legal risks of taking away the mandatory relief. My view: it was pushing the committee in a particular direction.

    Then remember that this is just one item on probably a packed agenda, they likely didn't have much time to consider it, and they were relying on what they'd been told.

    So the way to turn them around is - I think - very politely and considerately to put the evidence in front of each of them and ask them to raise the issue at a future meeting.

    The option of having a senior - and independent - lawyer review CoL's decision seemed to me a good one. I think maybe we should make that the thing we're asking for.

    - WT
  13. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    They went for the "let's avoid litigation and pass the burden of taxation onto the poor approach". I gave up at that point but am happy for you to be their mentor.
  14. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Not really. They went for what they thought was the best option, financially, for the council and its taxpayers.

    They were wrong, IMO, but still. There's no reason to think they weren't acting in good faith.

    Even if you don't believe that (I can't see why you wouldn't) then pretend you do in your comms with them and we'll be more likely to get a review of the mandatory relief.
  15. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    It's "Newspaper Time". When the Rottweilers have finished with them then maybe.

    I think Camden is going for the jugular and I wish them every success. It seems they have got no time for the limp wristers in the other London Boroughs.
  16. AnonLover Member

  17. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I want to see those CHARITY COMMISSION ERRORS as determined by the Church of Scientology. Shame on YOU, Charity Commission, for making such errors. The MOST ETHICAL GROUP ON THE PLANET has called you to task.
  18. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I think we will get a lot of mileage out of this one. Already, the response I have been seeing was more than I could have envisaged and I think there is much more to come. Already sent to a few of the right newspapers, of course.

    The following email sent to the District Auditor of the City of London Corporation.

    From: Roland Rashleigh-Berry (
    Sent: 06 October 2010 14:26:33

    Dear Nigel,

    I was reading an internal memo of the City of London Corporation Finance Committee which is webbed at the following URL and it seems to me that whether mandatory rates relief is extended or not for the Church of Scientology at 146 Queen Victoria Street was heavily influenced by the threat of costly litigation rather than applying legislation.

    Esco Text Retrieval System

    The committee decided to extend mandatory rates relief to the Church of Scientology as is made clear in the following document (search on "resolved").

    I find such a decision-making method on whether to collect national non-domestic rates highly irregular. They have effectively donated public funds to an organisation they knew not to be a valid one. Is this not unlawful?

    Roland Rashleigh-Berry
  19. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Something I just can not get past here, I have read and re-read the minutes doc and NO WHERE does it clearly say 'We opt to continue to grant mandatory rates relief to the CoS'

    Can any of you help here?
  20. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Search on the word "resolved" in the second link I posted (as instructed) and then all will become clear.
  21. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Who would I need to FOI then? City of London yea?
  22. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    see below
  23. Sponge Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Scroll down the page on that whatdotheyknow link. It's in the letter from Peter Nelson, Assistant Town Clerk, City of London, 5th October 2010.

    i.e. it is not in the report linked in the quote. That report was what was presented to the committe and the subsequent letter from Peter Nelson is telling you what the result of the committee meeting was ([13]).

    Edit: Our posts crossed and I see you got the above. I'll leave in so others can benefit from the explanation.


    Why "Assuming"? He is the Assistant Town Clerk and would have access to to committee decisions.
    It would of course be preferable to have minutes of the committee meeting itself and some "from the horses mouth" reasons.
  24. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Thanks Sponge, understand better now.
  25. BigBeard Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    So, has that report been forwarded to any UK news agencies yet?? I'm sure the people living in the CoL will be glad to see that fear of litigation is more important than collecting taxes.[/sarcasm]

  26. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I want to make a sign regard this and maybe a flier to go with it?.

    Sign being something like

    City of London do not collect taxes
    from Cos due to fear of litigation.


    Also this from ESMB
  27. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    yup - go for it.

    instructions on the site.

    you don't need to be a uk citizen, just a person. or a company.

    the only details you need provide are a name and an email address.

    About - WhatDoTheyKnow
  28. Anonymous Member

  29. Anonymous Member

  30. Anonymous Member

  31. AnonLover Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    much <3 to Thackeray.... delicious dox or yummy!
  32. Sponge Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    The October 2008 opinion of Jonathan Crow QC is dated especially in view of the more recent information such as the written admission in a letter to 7News Australia by CofS ANZO that COSRECI is not and never has been a registered charity in its established location of South Australia, which does make moot any points referring to a possible (ECHR) discrimination case based on the location of the "charitable" organisation that is seeking business rates tax relief. It's not a charity here, it's not a charity there. It's not a charity.
  33. Sponge Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    btw,from the latest FOI info posted above, here's a better gathering of the links in relation to the cover note on the CoL disclosure point site .....

    So, look out for those minutes of the Finance Committee meeting (27th Sept 2010), coming soon, and we'll get even more of an insight into how much they actually understood the walls of fatalist legal text.

    There is also Contemporaneous note of meeting with scientologists including Peter Hodkin 30/08/2006 (Not formal minutes) here: but its a scan so I'll maybe type that shit out and edit it in here later for a plaintext record....oh the OCR worked ok so here is now.....

    ^Wow, that's some fucking insight back in 2006
    Peter Hodkin: "Do you know anything about religion? The Charity Commissioners don't know anything about religion either."
    Arrogant twats.
  34. anonhuff Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    The counter argument presented in that Oct 15, 2008 opinion is based on the hypothetical situation of a "scientologist religious college" that was established in england or wales setting up shop right next door to the COSRECI one. The argument is that this one building would get rates relief while the one next to it would not, solely based on the location of establishment (one in australia, one in england/wales).

    This counter-argument is flawed because it does not take into account the still-upheld decision that scientology is not a charity in the UK so one established in england/wales would not be eligible for mandatory relief. The whole counter argument is premised upon a "local" CoS that gets mandatory relief while an "overseas-based" CoS would not.

    Fail, because neither are charities in either location (as pointed out above).

    I'm agreeing with Sponge but in many words.
  35. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I just read all that. I can understand that if COSRECI were a real functioning and recognised charity in another EU state then there would be grounds for challenging the refusal to grant mandatory rates relief on the basis of it being a foreign charity (even though UK law states that by definition it must fall under the control of UK courts) but it is a South Australian charity which is not an EU state and it isn't even a charity over in South Australia.

    The key thing is the main use of the premises which will be for auditing and training in return for payment of its members and whether that is for the public benefit. Thre Charity Commission decision of 1999 decided that this was not of public benefit. I note that Sunderland went directly against that decision and said that by auditing and training people in return for money it made the people more capable in society and that society benefitted as a result. But you can read about that in the other thread.
  36. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Sponge has hit the nail on the head.

    The argument that it's illegal to discriminate against foreign charities is irrelevant to COSREC, which is not a foreign charity.

    also can I just point out that the CoL's release of the legal opinion, which they legally didn't have to release, amounts to a complete surrender on the FOIA front. They're waving the white flag and implicitly requesting that could we please stop bitch-slapping them now. <smug>

    - WT.
  37. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    So, in sum:

    The cult got their mandatory tax relief in CoL by:

    • Using the logical fallacy of them being an religion, when relief is granted for charity.
    • Claiming COSRECI were a (tax exempt) charity in South Australia, which it never was.
    • By direct or indirect threat of costly litigation.

    In other words, they have tricked, lied and threatened the CoL into giving them relief, and now we have the documents to prove it! I am fairly certain that any MP with a bit of backbone would find this not entirely in accordance with how things are supposed to work. I suggest one of you who can speak Legalese start drafting a letter that he hive mind can refine and use for 'pooning selected parties.
  38. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    True, but there are other approaches they could use. Their best approach would be to put to the test the "religious discrimination" thing. They could argue that their religion is structured such that they have to do auditing and training and by nature it is a private practice but they should not be discriminated against for awarding mandatory rates relief because of this as they have to do this to follow their religion.
  39. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    They could argue that. But COSREC could argue all kinds of things.

    It's not the job of CoL to second-guess what COSREC might or might not argue.

    COSREC's job is to enforce the law, as it's written, fairly.

    Which means treating rich litigious corporations the same as anyone else.

    I think you're right that the problems here (I'm redrafting a little) are:

    * CoL is confused over COSREC's claim of religous status; if there's no public benefit then it makes no difference whether they're a religion or not.

    * CoL has ignored the Charity Commission's statement that it does not believe COSREC is 'for public benefit'.

    * COSREC has fraudulently claimed to CoL that it is a charity in South Australia, and CoL has not checked on this. (NB the legal opinion says, wrongly, that COSREC is American - not even got the nationality right).

    * CoL has wrongly taken into account the risk of costly litigation, when this should not be a factor in deciding whether to grant mandatory relief from business rates.

    * If CoL applies mandatory relief, then the money comes out of national funds, and CoL doesn't pay for it. If CoL denies mandatory relief then it might be sued, which CoL itself would have to pay for. So there's a built-in 'moral hazard' here, to the detriment of the taxpayer.
  40. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I got the impression that they would have enforced the law if they had gotten a clear answer to their question back from central government.

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