An Islamic centre described as the voice of Iran’s Supreme leader in the UK has closed – just weeks after the Charity Commission tried to take control.
The Islamic Centre of England (ICE) shut its doors on Wednesday following an investigation by the charity watchdog over how it was run.
Some sources have suggested that the Iranian regime decided to pull the plug on the operation rather than lose control to an interim manager appointed by the Charity Commission.
Another source, however, suggested that while the building was being closed down – at least temporarily – the charity was still being run by the interim manager with cooperation from the trustees.
A notice posted on the ICE’s locked gates stated: “It is with great sadness that we have to inform our Congregation & Community that due to the unforeseen circumstances, all programs including daily prayers are suspended until further notice.”
The message was later removed.
The Charity Commission announced earlier this month that it had appointed a senior partner at an international law firm as manager while its statutory inquiry into ICE continued.
The watchdog said Emma Moody had been appointed manager “due to the trustees’ failure to comply with their legal duties and responsibilities and their failure to protect the charity’s assets”.
It said that Ms Moody “will conduct a review of the charity’s governance and administration and make recommendations to the Commission based on her findings”.
The inquiry into the charity was opened in November last year over “serious governance concerns” and only after the watchdog had issued the ICE with an official warning.
The controversial charity, comprising a religious and cultural centre, in Maida Vale in west London, has been described as the ‘London office’ of the Iranian regime by Alicia Kearns, who chairs the foreign affairs select committee.
Theresa Villiers, a former Cabinet minister who sits on the intelligence and security select committee, described the centre as “the voice of the Supreme Leader in this country” in the Commons.
Concerns were first raised after The Telegraph revealed the cultural centre had hosted a vigil for Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who had been killed in a drone strike in January 2020.
The ICE’s director Seyed Hashem Moosavi issued a statement on the ICE website in which he praised Soleimani as a “great martyr”.
The IRGC funds and directs terror groups abroad that are linked to the Iranian regime.
Senior politicians have called for the ICE to be shut down.
Sources expressed concerns about the centre’s role at a time when the Islamic state was becoming increasingly volatile after a series of demonstrations were sparked following the death of Mahsa Amini, who was killed while in custody for not wearing a hijab.
A Charity Commission spokesman said on Wednesday: “We are aware of the developments at the charity. Our inquiry is ongoing, and we remain in close contact with the interim manager we appointed to the charity earlier this month. We can’t comment further at this time.”
An employee at the ICE confirmed to The Telegraph that the centre is closed. When asked why, the member of staff said: “I cannot tell you for security reasons.”
He said the centre would be closed for the next two to three days.
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