Anger at Rwanda telephone aid line profits

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The Independent Online
TIGHTER rules governing telephone charity collections were demanded by the Labour Party yesterday after it was revealed that a private company has made up to pounds 12,500 a day from donations to help Rwanda.

Interactive Telephone Services (ITS) has been running the Rwanda crisis hotline and receiving 50p for each of tens of thousands of calls received.

Tom Clarke, Labour spokesman on Overseas Development, wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday asking for a change in Charity Commission rules which currently allow private firms to take up to 7 per cent of the money raised. He said: 'I think it is unhealthy. I think that people are entitled to know where their money is going and I am sure that if people knew that a private firm is making a profit they would either write or call in at their local bank with donations.'

The Red Cross urged people not to turn their backs on the Rwanda emergency appeal as a result of the disclosure of the profits made by ITS. A Red Cross statement said that ITS offered an 'accessible and efficient' system capable of handling up to 3,000 calls a day on more than 2,000 telephone lines. 'In real terms that amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds - without question, if we didn't use this system, the money would be lost,' it added.

ITS is under investigation by fraud squad officers over its Telemillion telephone prize draw game, which was suspended amid accusations that it was a game of chance and therefore an illegal lottery.

Tim Renton, Tory MP for Mid Sussex and a former Minister for the Arts, resigned as chairman of ITS last week and severed his links with the company. But Mr Clarke said yesterday that Mr Renton's role should be investigated by the House of Commons Committee on Privileges.

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