1493182739770 - Trust linked to Head Hunters gang set to win appeal against being taken off charities list

Trust linked to Head Hunters gang set to win appeal against being taken off charities list

A charity organisation with ties to the Head Hunters gang looks set to win its appeal against being deregistered as a charity.

That Was Then This Is Now Charitable Trust was removed from the Charities Register earlier this year after an investigation by the Charities Registration Board found the organisation was not doing what it claimed.

The trust was set up in 2001 with Head Hunters members at the helm, including East Chapter president Wayne Doyle.

In its decision in December 2015 to strip the trust of its charity status, the board said the trust was not reintegrating prisoners or advancing any other charitable purposes.

READ MORE: Head hunters charity removed from charities register

Instead, its activities were focused on providing benefits to the Head Hunters Motorcycle Club, its members, associates and their families, the board said.

But an appeal held in the High Court at Wellington on Wednesday looks set to see the matter revisited, with the board indicating it will agree to reconsider its decision.

The board will hold a full meeting on Friday, and is expected to grant consent for the appeal, reverting the matter back to a new investigation.

The trust was granted charitable status in 2008 after claiming its purpose was to reintegrate and rehabilitate freed prisoners by providing education and social services to those at-risk or in need. 

Suspicions were raised two years later, and an investigation was eventually started in 2013, leading to the trust’s removal in January.

In her submission before Justice John Faire, counsel for the trust Kate Andersen said the board had been biased in its decision.

She cited several references to the Head Hunters gang instead of the That Was Then This Is Now Charitable Trust, and a refusal to release investigation documents to the trust.

That withholding of documents meant the trust did not have a chance to respond to or clarify the findings, she said. Details of the police notification that led to the eventual investigation were also not disclosed.

Daniel Perkins, of Crown Law, said the Charities Registration Board had indicated it would grant the appeal.

The board will confirm that decision with the court  on Friday, unless a prior agreement between the parties is reached.

HEAD HUNTERS

The Head Hunters is an outlaw motorcycle gang set up in Auckland in the 1960s, and is often associated with the production and sale of methamphetamine.

The gang has made headlines in recent years after large-scale police drug busts and the murder of member Connor Morris.

That Was Then This Is Now Charitable Trust’s premises were also the gang’s East Chapter headquarters in the Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington.

East 88 Property Holdings owns the trust’s premises. That company is owned by Head Hunters members, and directed by Doyle.

The facilities on Marua Rd include a swimming pool and gym, but are not open for use to the public or local schools, as claimed by the trust.

It is also the same location as Fight Club 88, a mixed martial arts gym frequented by Head Hunters members.

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