Call for Buckfast monks to be stripped of charitable status

A monk brewing the famous caffeinated wine. Pic: SWNSA monk brewing the famous caffeinated wine. Pic: SWNS
A monk brewing the famous caffeinated wine. Pic: SWNS
Campaigners are calling for monks who make a controversial alcoholic drink to be stripped of their charitable status.

The National Secular Society – which works to challenge religious privilege – says Buckfast Tonic Wine is dangerous.

It is particularly popular here in Scotland – known as ‘Buckie’ – and has been linked to 6,500 reports of antisocial behaviour and violence in just two years.

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The drink has been made by monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon since the 1920s.

The Charity Commission revealed Buckfast Abbey Trust’s income for 2014/15 was £8.8m – mostly from its wine.

And since 2004 the Trust has made around £88m in royalties from each bottle.

The Trust does not pay tax on the income because it is a charity – which the National Secular Society says is an “abuse of the charitable system”.

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They have now called on the Charity Commission to remove the charitable status.

Society vice president Alistair McBay said: “The monks should be setting an example as a religious organisation but the opposite is happening.

“The question needs to be asked ‘Are they serving God or Mammon?’”

The Trust justifies its charitable status by saying its aim is the “advancement of the Roman Catholic religion”.

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The Charity Commission said it took “all complaints about registered charities seriously” and would “assess the information about the Buckfast Abbey Trust to determine if there is a regulatory role for the Commission”.

Buckfast Abbey Trust said that following the complaint it would contact the Charity Commission.

Police in Scotland and the Scottish Labour Party have tried to ban the wine.

Dundee Sheriff Alastair Brown said recently that the drink is “something which is often seen as a feature of cases involving violence”.