British newspapers have, in the past, linked Common Purpose in the UK to the issues surrounding press self-regulation. This high profile debate took place in the UK following revelations of phone hacking. As a result a judicial public inquiry was held by Lord Leveson into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press. This link was entirely misguided because Common Purpose has had no involvement whatsoever in the debate or in any campaigns for greater regulation of the press.
The confusion arose because Sir David Bell (my predecessor as Chairman of Common Purpose in the UK) and Julia Middleton, CEO of the Common Purpose Charitable Trust, were both part of setting up an independent charity called the Media Standards Trust in 2006 to foster high standards in news media in the UK. Sir David also served on the panel of Assessors for the Leveson Inquiry. Both Julia and David did this independently and without any involvement of Common Purpose because they believe in the importance of media in democracy. They have also been keen contributors to the recent expanding of the Orwell Prize for Journalism, celebrating the best of British journalism.
The resulting media coverage dredged up long-discredited conspiracy theories about Common Purpose in the UK propounded by two individuals in the South of England. Sadly, it is not uncommon for unfounded attacks such as these to be made using the internet. Common Purpose's objectives, accounts, history, governance, staffing, formal charitable status and educational activities are all very clearly and transparently laid out - and regularly updated - on the Common Purpose website, along with testimonials and references from many customers and partners from all sectors right across the UK.
I am Chair of Trustees of Common Purpose in the UK because I believe we need more civic engagement and leadership. All my experience of Common Purpose has shown me that its educational work is invaluable in the strengthening of communities and the promotion of active citizenship. This is made possible by its independence, openness, commitment and professionalism.