How fiendish is Friends of the Earth

For a time I was an active member of Friends of the Earth and supported all they did.  I then moved house and job and my membership lapsed. That is something I regretted as I felt I should be do more for the environment and that Friends of the Earth was one of the best organisations doing that.

That remained the case until March 2014 when I went to a meeting organised by RAFF (Residents against Fracking; Fylde) at Inskip (10 miles from Preston). I was unimpressed with the low level of accuracy in the presentation. i challenged some of this and to my surprise the local FoE activist supported the speaker in the inaccuracies. In two minutes my respect for FoE evaporated. RAFF also handed out a leaflet Shale Gas; the Facts  which they withdrew after a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Over the next 15 months I saw how FoE worked on local communities stirring them up against fracking. During the run-up to the hearings in Preston on Cuadrilla’s bid, they organised sessions for public speaking. We listened to these at the hearings. Those speaking could present themselves well, but the content was dire.

And so to October 2015. This leaflet





was included in (i.e.paid for) in various magazines and papers – Private eye, Sunday Times , Simple Things  with possibly some others.

It was an appeal for funds and gave a highly inaccurate presentation of fracking.

The television programme ended up with Tony Bosworth’s daft ideas that sand is carcenogenic, portrayed mischievously by this elusive Backing Fracking (BF).

fracking sand

Soon after we put in a complaint to ASA and Ipsos and are awaiting a judgmnet.

It seems that others (Cuadrilla?) have done the same, but Friends of the Earth argue that it was not their charitable wing but their Limited Company which did this.

Whatever the legalities of the issue, it does seem that this green NGO should clearly remove one of the “r”s from its name.


Here’s another blog on it

Below is the article form the Times today 29th January 2016



Ben Webster Environment Editor The TIMES newspaper.

Published at 12:01AM, January 29 2016
The Charity Commission is considering closing a loophole in charity law that allowed a green group to raise money by making allegedly false claims in a political campaign against fracking.

Friends of the Earth, a registered charity, avoided restrictions on political activity by claiming that its antifracking campaign was being carried out by a non-charitable company called Friends of the Earth Limited.

The commission said the use of such similar names could confuse the public and damage public trust in charities.

Last year Friends of the Earth was accused of scaremongering to raise money by suggesting that sand used in fracking could cause cancer. It distributed thousands of leaflets seeking donations to help it fight plans by “the government and big companies desperate to frack the UK”.

It sought to justify a claim in the leaflet that fracking used toxic chemicals by stating that it required sand, which contained “significant amounts of silica which is a known carcinogen”. Cuadrilla, which is appealing against the rejection of its applications to frack in Lancashire, complained to the Charity Commission that the leaflet caused “unfounded fear” and resulted in “donations being diverted from more worthy charitable causes”.

Neil Robertson, the commission’s head of operations, replied that it could not take action because the leaflet had been published by a non-charitable body, Friends of the Earth Limited.

Mr Robertson wrote that Friends of the Earth, the charity, had engaged in an anti-fracking campaign until last year but the trustees had decided that it should withdraw “on the basis that it was becoming a more politically sensitive issue”. Since June, the campaign had been carried out “solely by Friends of the Earth Limited”. He said that other charities had non-charitable campaign bodies and this needed to be investigated. “We realise that this can cause confusion to the public and could pose a reputational risk to charity.”

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “It is deplorable that a recognised charity is now choosing to distance itself from a misleading and fear-inducing fundraising leaflet by hiding behind its non-charitable associate. The public has had enough of charities which abuse the fundraising process. We urge the Charity Commission to investigate the fiction that this charity is no longer involved in campaigning against fracking. It is a sham.”

Friends of the Earth said that Cuadrilla’s complaints “seem to be designed to stifle debate and intimidate local opposition”.

In 2014, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a charity which questions whether man-made emissions are causing dangerous climate change, created a separate non-charitable campaigning body, the Global Warming Policy Forum. Benny Peiser, the director of both bodies, said the forum was created at the suggestion of the Charity Commission, which was frustrated by having to deal with complaints against the foundation by a climate change campaigner

20 thoughts on “How fiendish is Friends of the Earth

  1. Paul Braterman

    Reblogged this on Primate's Progress and commented:
    Friends of the Earth’s anti-fracking campaign; mendacious, lucrative, and legally protected
    Re-blogged from Michael Roberts’s How fiendish is Friends of the Earth?
    Fracking fluids contain sand. Sand contains silica. Silica can cause silicosis and even cancer. Therefore fracking is bad. Send us money.
    But not Friends of the Earth, which is answerable to the Charities Commission. Friends of the Earth Limited, a profit-making subsidiary outside the Commission’s terms of reference. Much as the Global Warming Policy Foundation, whose purpose is to deny global warming, issues its materials through a separate legal entity, the Global Warming Policy Forum.
    We need rational discussion about and its place in overall fracking, energy policy. And what are Friends of the EARTH contributing towards this discussion? Crusading zeal in place of rational reflection, demonisation where we most need discourse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scottish Sceptic

    I was once a green party member in Scotland – I was even selected to stand at the holyrood elections as second on the list – but there was a heated local debate about saving A&E at our local hospital – and I was astonished to find the first person on the list (parachuted in from Edinburgh) refused to back local services.

    However, my abiding memory of being an engineer in the Greens was feeling completely alone as one of the few if not the only one that actually understood what their policies meant. It was as a result of that I felt I had to learn more about the “science” of global warming – and I was horrified to find out that there was no real science, that I had been put into a position of telling what I considered to be outright lies to the people of Scotland.

    In retrospect (even at the time) it was pretty obvious the Greens were being led by greedy business people who see environmentalists as gullible people who can be manipulated to make themselves money. Since I became a climate sceptic, I’ve been disgusted at the behaviour of my former colleagues in the Green party in Scotland and those in Fiends of the Earth, WWF, etc.

    A while back we learnt that I think it was Fiends of the Earth got funding from Russia. I know other groups get funding for Saudi Oil (to stop US fracking). There is some evidence of Chinese involvement in promoting the global warming cause. Obviously these could just be smear tactics – but having worked in wind I can attest that the Big Oil companies are up to their backsides making money from the global warming scare. Indeed like Saudi OIl in Canada I would not be at all surprised if the UK anti-fracking campaign were being funded by rival oil companies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. daviditron

    It seems to this non-lawyer that FOE at the very least conspired to deceive by using FOE Lmt to say whatever it wanted. FOE has only used a “loophole” if you throw logic and common sense out the window. But as I said, I’m not a lawyer. Surely if you can show some communication between the two groups there is no loophole at all.


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  5. Gurgeh50

    If FotE Ltd. is set up the way other “charities” do it, it is a 100% owned subsidiary of the charity. Any profits that it makes are then Gift aided to the parent charity. I do not advocate closing the Gift Aid loophole because it benefits many worthy charities, but if the non-charity is indeed 100% owned by the charity then the owner should be held responsible for the actions of it’s subsidiary.


  6. Stoic

    Gurgeh, I am not sure that you are correct. The guidance is that gift aid cannot be claimed when the donation is from a limited company


      1. Gurgeh50

        I once worked for a charity on their Board and we set up a limited company subsidiary with the intent of doing just that. The rules must have changed.


  7. Lorraine Allanson

    Friends of the Earth are deceitful in my opinion as they have never made it plain that people were now donating to a Ltd company. By using a Ltd company to campaign against fracking it gave them free reign to mislead people and encourage them to part with their hard earned money to support their organisation. After viewing their accounts to the year end May 2014 it is very shocking to see they spent almost £6 million pounds paying 115 members of staff. That equates to huge salaries for all their staff. People on pensions and basic wages are being mislead into donating to their charity only to support high incomes for others. I find that disgraceful and shocking. The leaflet shows an elderly lady being comforted by ‘Pat’ and is obviously encouraging vulnerable people to part with their money. Talk about being greedy. It makes me feel so sad how they have mislead so many people into parting with the little bit of money they have, Also they absolutely do not want the people of the north to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to earn higher wages and the chance to improve their existence. Who really are the greedy capitalists? Companies who want to create jobs and encourage businesses to flourish in the supply chain or Ltd companies masquerading as charities to get people to donate so that they can pay massive wages to their staff?


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  9. Ian

    I make presentations on “Fracking and Earthquakes in Shale-Oil-Gas”. I focus on data and facts. The goal is to separate truth from untruth. More info in my website….. search on “Fracking”. Bottom lines are: (1) Fracs do not grow up to the surface and contaminate aquifers. (2) Rare contamination comes up the well due to well being poorly cemented. (3) Earthquakes felt at surface are generally not due to fracking of wells. (4) Earthquakes are due to disposal of wastewater in disposal wells that are poorly sited. The question is often asked “Are fracs good or bad?” Its the wrong question. A better question is “What are the risks versus rewards of fracking”. This question has led to fruitful discussion in my experience.


  10. Martyn


    Could you print the whole leaflet? As this blog stands, it appears from FOE’s leaflet says carcinogenic chemicals are used, but does not specify what they are.

    As far as I can see, it is only your text that alleges this chemical is silica. My understanding is that fracking uses more than simply sand, so it is – from the material published on this blog – at least possible FOE were referring to other chemicals that are involved.

    It would be very helpful if you could clear this up.


    1. michaelroberts4004 Post author

      Silica/sand is not mentioned in the leaflet but Tony Bosworth cited it as a carcinogen in his TV interview – hence the naughty meme from backing Fracking. The main chemical in most fracking fluids is dihydrogen monoxide which is a constituent of most poisons. The other ones in minute proportions are surfactnats (in washing up liquid) and hydrochloric acid (found in your stomach). This just illustrates FoE’s duplicity and lack of scientific knowledge


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