Buckfast wine controversy: Buckfast Abbey proposed to be stripped off charity status for producing dangerous drink

Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Naczk
An empty bottle of Buckfast Tonic Wine

The Buckfast Abbey, a religious charity institution in Devon in Scotland, could lose its charitable status for producing Buckfast Tonic Wine, an alcoholic beverage related to criminal activities and anti-social behaviors in several parts of Scotland.

The Buckfast Abbey monks have been producing the controversial wine since 1920s. The wine was popularly known as, "commotion lotion," "buckie" and "break the hoose juice." The charity has been generating a large portion of its income from the production of the wine.

Secularists have been campaigning to remove the charitable status of the said religious institution for producing a wine that was linked to violent and anti-social behavior in Glasgow and other parts of Scotland.

The National Secular Society (NSS) wrote a letter to the Charity Commission to investigate the operations of the Buckfast Abbey Trust. The letter argued about the several reports of criminal activities associated with the consumption of Buckfast wine.

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The NSS said that in 2015, Scottish Prison Service found that 43.4% of their inmates consumed the wine before committing their offenses. The NSS also argued about the probable abuse of the charitable system. Buckfast Abbey is not paying any amount of tax to the government because it is a charity.

"Charitable status and the accompanying tax benefits should only be granted to organisations that deliver a demonstrable public benefit. In the case of Buckfast Abbey, the social harm caused appears to outweigh any public good. Where this happens, or where the good is simply not good enough, public confidence in supporting charities risks being undermined," said Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns director.

The Charity Commission has posted the annual financial report of the Buckfast Abbey Trust. The Buckfast Abbey has made a total income of £8.8 million in 2015. £7.3 million of the income has been generated from the production and distribution of the Buckfast Tonic Wine.

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