For those following this saga, I have now had the following response from the Charity Commission. Effectively they seem to be accepting that the charity has broken the rules but don't seem to be proposing any sanctions – or even warning of any sanctions in the event of a repetition:
Dear Mr Phibbs
Thank you for your email of 17 June 2009, in connection with your concerns regarding the recent email circulated by the charity entitled 'Campaign for Better Transport wants to hear from you!'.
We have received similar expressions of concern from other sources and are currently corresponding with the charity's trustees to provide specific advice and guidance. Our understanding is that the charity has already issued an apology via its Communications Director,
clarifying that it was not intended as any form of attack against a political party and acknowledging that this may have been the impression given due to the particular choice of wording used by the person issuing the email.
In contacting the trustees, we have stressed to them the importance of maintaining an unbiased perspective when dealing with issues which, while within the charity's stated objects, also by their nature involve matters which could be seen by those outside the charity as 'political' or 'politically motivated'. The Commission's published guidance to charities considering engaging in Campaigning (and other activities which can be seen as Political in nature) is set out in
CC9, a copy of which you can access directly from our website at www.charitycommission.gov.uk by following the link 'Publications and Guidance'.
Any query, please call us on 0845 3000 218.
Charity Commission Direct – Caseworking Team