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SPAC Nation: No criminal probe into evangelical church

SPAC Nation service Image copyright @SPACNation
Image caption SPAC Nation says it has been "vindicated" by the Met Police announcement

Police have announced they will not launch a criminal inquiry into an evangelical church accused of financially exploiting young people.

The Met held a review into allegations of "fraud and other offences" against people associated with SPAC Nation, but has found no criminal action.

However, two separate claims of fraud against individuals are being investigated, with one man arrested.

SPAC Nation said it was "vindicated" and "truth always prevails".

In January, the London-based church, praised for helping ex-gang members, was accused of financial exploitation and fraud by Croydon North MP Steve Reed.

A report by BBC Panorama last year also featured former SPAC Nation members who accused the church of wrongdoing.

One 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.

The church, which at the time was under investigation by both the Charity Commission and the Met, denied all the allegations.

It also accused Mr Reed of discrediting the church for political gain during the general election.

On Monday the church said: "SPAC Nation will like to re-emphasise that we have confidence in the judiciary system and the law enforcement system, we had belief they would do their jobs right and as a church we stand for what is right."

Mr Reed has described the Met's decision not to launch a criminal inquiry as "perverse".

Image caption The church's leader Pastor Tobi Adegboyega has always denied the accusations

"I've forwarded dozens more allegations from victims and witnesses. I will check that the police have contacted every single one of them," the MP said.

He added he would raise concerns with the Mayor of London and directly with the force itself.

The Met said it had contacted the Charity Commission "in relation to its statutory inquiry into SPAC Nation".

"Should any further information come to light this will be reviewed accordingly," the force added.

It said the two separate cases being investigated "relate to the actions of individuals, not the actions of an organisation".

One of the cases involves a 22-year-old man who was arrested on 13 January on suspicion of fraud by false representation in 2018.

He was released under investigation following a search of an address in north-west London.

Police said the second allegation was said to have taken place between March 2017 and July 2019.

No arrests have been made and officers are continuing their inquiries.

In December, the charities regulator said it had opened its own investigation into SPAC Nation's safeguarding and finances, which is ongoing.

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