IEA Chief Operating Officer responds to Deidre Brock’s comments on the IEA’s charitable status

Commenting on Scottish National Party MP Deidre Brock’s call for the Institute of Economic Affairs to lose its charitable status in Prime Minister’s Question Time, Andy Mayer, Chief Operating Officer at the free market think tank, said:

“This stunt is a blatant effort to intimidate and silence opposing voices. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was correct to reject the question and highlight the importance of free speech and vibrant debate. 

“Think tanks contribute ideas to public debate and those ideas are available for others to reject, improve or implement as they see fit. Ultimately, politicians develop their own agendas and policies.

“The abuse of Parliamentary privilege to promote an ongoing smear campaign, without a right to reply is demeaning for any politician. Brock’s false claims about the IEA’s charitable status come from a vexatious critic and have been found to be without merit by the regulator  several times.”


Note to editors

Contact: [email protected] / 07763 365520

IEA spokespeople are available for interview and further comment.

The Charity Commission has consistently thrown out complaints about the IEA’s charitable status and, in June 2019, withdrew a warning in relation to the IEA’s Plan A+. This includes rejecting complaints from Andrew Purkis, the source of Brock’s claims. The only exception is one case in 2017, when the Commission ruled two press releases by the IEA were ‘over the line’ for political activity and they were removed. 

In 2019, the Labour Party manifesto proposed updating lobbying law to cover think tanks, a commitment reiterated by Angela Rayner last month. A change to transparency rules or charity law would require a definition of think tanks, which is not easy and could have unintended consequences for any group researching public policy, including universities and publishers. This may be why three years later, they have not made any proposals for review.

The IEA has discussed the importance of privacy and proposed changes to improve transparency and regulation of lobbying.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expanding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.