In answer to your question , It-Sec , my basic train of thought is that in essence there are 2 issues here -
1... Should the WTS have any dealings with the UN ;
As far as the issue of “doing business” with the UN is concerned , I don’t see how the WTS has any choice. A few years ago , I was involved as a director of a company working in East Africa (great - blown my cover now to anyone who knows me!) and I saw at first hand how the UN and its agencies are very influential - it would be almost impossible to work independently. JWs , being involved all over the world & dealing with freedom of religion , legal registration & human rights issues they would have no choice but to engage with the UN.
2... Were they caught in an outright lie when “found out”?
I suppose this comes down to trust. For one thing , I know Paul Gillies in London who wrote the reply letter to the Guardian - you couldn’t meet a nicer or more mild individual - he is physically incapable of telling or relaying what would be an outrageous lie. I honestly think the society did not realise the implications of signing up to NGO status - whether they didn’t read through the paperwork initially or the terms changed (or both).
I would like to take the opportunity to respond to both these points separately.
1: Should the WTS have any dealings with the UN
There is a distinct difference between "doing business" with the UN—which IMO would not constitute hypocrisy—and becoming a member of a UN departmental section. An Application to Associate to the UN/DPI was filled out in toto, was properly signed, supporting materials were collected, and the lot of it was submitted to the DPI Committee on NGOs. Whether this application was approved or denied, the act of applying was in itself gross wrongdoing. It clearly demonstrated a desire to "become a part of a secular organization that has objectives contrary to the Bible" and one that is "under judgement by Jehovah God."
Now, the WTS responds that they were not becoming part of the UN. That is technically true, however they were becoming part of the UN/DPI, and Associate member of it, in point of fact—the closest relationship to the UN/DPI available to an NGO like the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. So, apart from an examination of the UN, let us focus entirely on the UN/DPI.
According to the teachings of the WTS, is the UN/DPI an organization with objectives contrary to the Bible? Unquestionably, yes. It is the public voice of the UN; it is the promotional and propagandistic arm of the UN. It is the agency through which the world will become admirers of the UN (per WTS dogma).
What does the Governing Body say about such memberships?
Concerning those who renounced their Christian faith in his day, the apostle John wrote: "They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us." (1 John 2:19) For example, a person might renounce his place in the Christian congregation by his actions, such as by becoming part of a secular organization that has objectives contrary to the Bible and, hence, is under judgment by Jehovah God. (Isa. 2:4; Rev. 19:17-21) If a person who is a Christian chooses to join those who are disapproved by God, a brief announcement is made to the congregation, stating: "[Name of person] is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses." Such a person is treated in the same way as a disfellowshipped person. The presiding overseer should approve this announcement. (Organized to Do Jehovah's Will, p. 155, par. 2)
Hypocrisy is inescapably evident in that a different standard applies to the organization than the standard that applies to individuals.
2: Were they caught in an outright lie when “found out”?
You stated correctly that it comes down to an issue of trust. Paul Gillies trust, in point of fact, not an issue of your own trust of Paul Gillies. Paul Gillies would have to be suspicious of the story he was told to relay anything other than he relayed. I don't believe he lied, I believe he communicated someone else's lie in complete trust that he was told the whole truth.
However, either he was lied to or he was lying, as there is no other possible explanation for the differences between his responses to The Guardian and the response I received some years later. Since I choose to credit your description of his integrity, I can only assume he was fooled into parroting an untruth. Either way, he communicated a lie—whether his or someone else's.
Your comment regarding "the paperwork" betrays ignorance of the approval process. One of the questions on the aplication they submitted asked what reason the applicant wished to Associate to the UN/DPI. For any one of Jehovah's Witnesses to enter ANY response into that box is gross wrongdoing, and sugar-coating it as anything else is a blatant attempt at self-deception. There is no reason, not even under threat of death, for any of Jehovah's Witnesses or any of their affiliated organization to ever apply to Associate to the UN or any of its Departments and/or Sections.
Certainly, something as trivial as library access is a figurative "bowl of the red," for which an inheritance was sold. It was spiritual fornication according to the doctrine of the Governing Body.
On to another topic, to EVERYONE:
Administrative Center for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia
It seems there is continued misunderstanding about the term NGO. In my opinion, it is critical that everyone who speaks about this matter get clearly in mind that the term "NGO" has no direct correlation to the UN or its agencies whatsoever. I called the UN/DPI NGO Section this morning and confirmed my suspicion that the non-governmental organization (its organizational nature being non-governmental) known as "Administrative Center for Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia" is not now, nor has it ever been connected with the UN or its agencies in any way. To state that it has is to lie.