SPAC Nation: Church to be debated in Parliament

MP Steve Reed (left) and Dapo Adegboyega of SPAC Nation

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MP Steve Reed (left) and Dapo Adegboyega of SPAC Nation on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme

Parliament is to discuss the activities of an evangelical church accused of being a “cult exploiting young people”

London based SPAC Nation, praised for helping ex-gang members, has been accused of financial exploitation and fraud by Croydon North MP Steve Reed.

The church, which is under investigation by the Charities Commission and the Met Police, denied the claims.

It accused the MP of discrediting the church for political gain.

Wednesday’s parliamentary debate was brought by Mr Reed, who told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme the scale of the exploitation was on the level of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

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The Croydon North MP has called for an inquiry into the activities of a church group SPAC Nation

A report by BBC Panorama featured former SPAC Nation members who accused the church of wrongdoing, with one former senior member saying the church “has to be shut down”.

One member claimed she was persuaded to commit benefit fraud by a trustee, while another said she had a £5,000 loan taken out in her name without her knowledge.

Mr Reed said he had also been contacted by former members about an alleged sexual exploitation and had passed this, and all information, on to police.

The MP claimed thousands of “susceptible” young people were “befriended”, separated from their families and friends and “brainwashed” before being “coerced into making fraudulent applications for loans”.

But SPAC Nation’s Reverend Dapo Adegboyega denied all the Labour MP’s accusations.

He confirmed the church “had been engaging with the charity commission for months,” adding: “An inquiry is not a finding of wrong-doing.”

The pastor said the commission was simply carrying out its duty to check matters.

“As of now we are not aware of any investigation,” he added.

He accused the MP of deliberately launching his accusations during the 2019 general election campaign by contacting “faceless individuals on the internet” to besmirch one of the town’s Tory candidates who had connections with SPAC Nation.

In December, the charities regulator revealed it had opened its own investigation into SPAC Nation’s safeguarding and finances.

The Charity Commission said it was still carrying out a review of the church’s procedures.

The Metropolitan Police is still reviewing allegations of possible fraud and other offences before deciding whether to investigate further.

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