A campaign to save Huddersfield’s A&E unit has been denied charitable status because it’s ‘political.’

The Charity Commission refused to register #HandsOffHRI as a charity because the campaign’s aim of halting the Right Care Right Time Right Place is ‘political’.

Now campaigners are starting a not-for-profit limited company to manage its campaign fund.

And campaigners say ‘Hands off HRI Ltd’ will continue to pursue the same aims and values as before.

The commission, which authorises and regulates UK charities, said: “The organisation is clearly established with the sole aim of challenging any decision to move the local Accident & Emergency unit which is a political aim.

“Therefore I am unable to conclude that the organisation is established for exclusively charitable purposes and so your application to register #handsoffhri is refused.”

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The commission’s correspondence to #HandsOffHRI adds: “In order to be established as a charity an organisation must have objects which are exclusively charitable.

“The objects must not permit the pursuit of non-charitable objects and a charity cannot have a political purpose...

“In this case the object could not be considered as exclusively charitable and extends to a political purpose.

“Political has a wide meaning which extends to procuring changes or seeking to influence public policy, not simply party political activities.”

#HandsOffHRI expressed disappointed about the commission’s ruling – but campaigners are now planning to start a not-for-profit limited company.

Campaign secretary Natalie Ratcliffe said: “The reasoning behind the charity commission decision is that our campaign is political. We did state in the application that we were a pan-political group.

“The Charity Commission’s decision quite rightly quotes from our website: ‘The sole purpose of our campaign is to challenge the proposal put forward by Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield CCGs.

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“On receiving the decision we took immediate advice from Irwin Mitchell.

“It was decided that we become a not-for-profit limited company. The Lewisham Campaign and Keep Wythenshawe special have both taken this route.

“The company is Hands of HRI Limited; we are not for profit.

“Our values and aims are exactly the same. All decisions are committee led.

“All funds go towards our fighting fund and legal pot.”