Princess Diana fund cynically hijacked by the Left

How money is being diverted to pro-immigration campaign fund

James Slack, Michael Seamark and Rebecca English — Daily Mail April 13, 2013

Princess Diana campaigned to have landmines abolished

The Princess Diana Memorial Fund, to which millions of her admirers donated money, has been hijacked by Left-wingers to fund a pro-immigration propaganda campaign.

Directors of the charity set up a secretive project called Changing Minds and then channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds into a string of associated organisations.

The aim of the scheme is to alter British attitudes to immigration – which are currently in favour of far stricter border controls.

Among some of its most successful achievements, it lists the establishment of a new ‘independent’ think-tank – criticised by a Labour MP as a front for Left-wing views on immigration.

The Migration Observatory is advised by a senior journalist on the Left-wing Guardian newspaper, and the husband of its star columnist, Polly Toynbee.

Last night Rosa Monckton, a close friend of Diana, described the decision as ‘outrageous’.

She said: ‘I don’t ever recall Diana expressing any interest in this issue to me, and we spoke a great deal about her passions and concerns, particularly at the time that she was cutting down her charitable commitments.

‘She never wanted to be a figurehead or to be used overtly for lobbying purposes. To the extent that she remained involved in charitable work, it was of a purely practical nature, such as the removal of land mines, and the care of people with AIDS.

‘She was also always extremely careful never to get involved in anything that was remotely divisive along party political lines.’

The Diana Fund was established within days of Diana’s death in 1997, in response to the unprecedented outpouring of public grief.

Its coffers were filled with £38million from the sale of the Elton John record Candle in the Wind (Goodbye England’s Rose) – which sold five million copies in the UK alone. Another £34million was raised from individual donations from a distressed public, community groups and companies. Donations included individual 50p pieces sent by pensioners.

Later, a further £66million was raised through investments and commercial partnerships.

Initially, many of the grants from the Fund were paid to organisations closely associated with the Princess, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital. But, in 2007, its directors and trustees – who include a campaigner against the Government’s benefit cuts – dramatically changed direction.

Since then, the Memorial Fund has spent a total of £7,195,575 on 91 grants, made to 79 different organisations working on behalf of immigrants and asylum seekers.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this new strategy was the Changing Minds project, elements of which have received at least £820,0000.

The Observatory has been paid £350,000 over the last three years. It does not mention Changing Minds in its self-description or output, and there has been little public mention of the ‘propaganda’ project.

According to strategy documents written by the Diana Fund, Changing Minds exists to address ‘the plight of asylum seekers and their children in the UK by seeking to track, inform and influence public attitudes towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers’.

But last year, a conference of the Association of Charitable Funders said the work was designed to achieve ‘attitudinal change’ on ‘negative attitudes’ to all migrants. It described changing attitudes towards migrants as an ‘example of the sort of “wicked” social problem that foundations are increasingly likely to encounter’.

Opinion polls in Britain have repeatedly shown the public’s desire for a sharp reduction in net migration. This has infuriated the Left-wing establishment, which is a long-standing champion of large-scale economic migration.

The Diana Fund supports Changing Minds in tandem with a string of other charities and pro-immigration organisations. They include the Barrow Cadbury Trust – itself a recipient of a £40,000 grant from the Diana Fund so it could help fund Changing Minds – and a New York-based group named Unbound Philanthropy.

Unbound Philanthropy, which has given the Observatory £342,000, says it wants to ensure migrants ‘can ultimately thrive in a society that is comfortable with the diversity and opportunity that immigration brings’. It is ploughing huge sums into pro-immigration groups – including the Migrants’ Rights Network, the new British Future think-tank and  the Observatory.

Labour MP Frank Field says the Observatory, part of the COMPAS think-tank at Oxford University, has been set up ‘to try to undermine’ MigrationWatch, a campaign group for stricter immigration controls.

He said it was ‘trying to use the status of Oxford University to peddle Left-wing views on immigration’, adding: ‘People who gave money to the Diana Fund would be very surprised to learn it has donated huge sums to a propaganda effort to change public opinion on immigration.’

The Observatory’s media advisory board includes Zoe Williams, a writer on the Guardian, and David Walker. It is chaired by Mr Walker, a former communications director at the Audit Commission and Guardian journalist, who is married to Polly Toynbee – the paper’s leading columnist and a vocal critic of the Royal Family.

On the day of the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, Miss Toynbee described the event as Britain’s ‘Marie Antoinette moment’. Of the day itself, she asked: ‘Is this what Britain is and who we are? Here was a grand illusion, the old conspiracy to misrepresent us to ourselves.’

Other groups involved in the Changing Minds project include the pro-immigration Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Migrants’ Rights Network. Both IPPR, an advocate of the benefits of economic migration, and MRN get money from the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

The directors of the Fund, until it was wound up at the end of last year, were headed by Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana’s eldest sister.

The others were David Isaac, the former chairman of the gay rights campaign group Stonewall, and Tahera Aanchawan. Mr Isaac is also a trustee of British Future, another major player in Changing Minds and which itself received £470,000 from the Diana Fund.

Miss Aanchawan publicly signed a petition for Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week, as demanded by a protester against benefit cuts.

Sir Roger Singleton, former chief executive at Barnado’s, stockbroker Terry Hitchcock, Dr Diana Leat, described as a leading voluntary sector researcher, and John Whitaker, who has worked within the charity sector for 20 years, were the other directors.

The different groups it has been supporting are intrinsically linked. Don Flynn, a key figure in the MRN, sits on the Observatory’s expert advisory board.

The Diana Fund was wound up at the end of 2012 and passed to the charitable foundation set up for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

A Palace spokesman said the foundation had not played any part in the controversial grant-giving. He made clear any residual income received for the Fund will go to the foundation – which will not continue the Fund’s grant-making in any way.

A spokesman for the Migration Observatory said: ‘The Migration Observatory was designed to provide accurate data and information to all contributors to the migration debate. Our work has been used and cited as a reliable source by politicians and newspapers across the political spectrum, including in multiple stories in the Daily Mail. This is a testament to our success in providing data and evidence that are useful, accurate, and non-partisan.’

Sir Roger Singleton said of Frank Field’s comments: ‘I am surprised to hear that. It is not my understanding of what the Observatory is all about.

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