25 Sep 2020

Battle over Family First's charitable status may head to Supreme Court

4:56 pm on 25 September 2020

The Attorney-General has applied for leave to appeal last month's court decision on Family First's charitable status.

18072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Wellington High Court.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Court of Appeal last month set aside the Charities Registration Board's 2017 decision to deregister the lobby group as a charity.

In a statement, the board said it did not have an active role in appeals.

"In this case, the Attorney-General was joined as a party, reflecting the Attorney's role as the 'protector of charities'."

In a statement, Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said it had been notified of the intention to appeal the decision.

He said the move threatened freedom of speech, belief and open debate.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

McCoskrie also said the board was inconsistent in with the way it treated other charities doing similar work.

"Family First has fought and will continue to fight this decision because of the threat it places on us and other charities and our collective freedom to speak on behalf of our supporters in a civil society.

"An overly restrictive or narrow view of what is in the public benefit is likely to be of concern to all charities, many of which have a certain emphasis or point of view."

In its judgement last month, the court said the question of whether Family First qualified for charitable status had been subject to intense scrutiny for years, and there had been several decisions since then.

In 2018, the High Court upheld the board's decision to remove the charity, because it said promoting traditional family values was not charitable work.

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