The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Save the Children UK over concerns about the charity’s handling, reporting and response to serious allegations of misconduct and harassment against senior staff members in 2012 and 2015.
The Commission was previously in regulatory engagement with Save the Children UK in 2015-16, following the charity’s report of a serious incident relating to allegations of misconduct and harassment against a senior staff member, and an anonymous complaint about the charity’s response to further allegations against senior staff members. An independent review was conducted and assurances made by the charity that recommendations were being acted upon.
The Commission re-engaged with the charity in February 2018 when it was responding to further public scrutiny about the 2015 issues, with the charity announcing a new review into its workplace culture.
As a result of that more recent engagement with the charity, alongside new information from other sources that has recently come into the regulator’s possession, the Commission is concerned about:
- whether the charity adequately reported the full extent and nature of allegations to the Commission in 2015/16
- how the charity handled various complaints in 2012 and 2015 and, as a result, the extent of any reviews conducted at the time by the trustees into the charity’s response to the allegations
- the charity’s decision making since February 2018 on its public position regarding these allegations
As a result, the Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity on 4 April 2018. The new investigation will examine, among other matters, whether trustees have:
- adequately discharged their duties in handling the allegations at the time, and in fulfilling their duty of care towards their employees
- ensured the charity has implemented measures about operating to appropriate standards of work place conduct and staff safeguarding – including testing staffing misconduct allegations, complaints or incidents received by the charity since 1 January 2016
- made decisions around public handling and reputation management on the historic allegations appropriately
- disclosed fully, frankly and accurately, serious incidents relating to staffing matters to the Commission
The inquiry is purely concerned with the issues of safeguarding in the context of misconduct and harassment of the charity’s staff.
Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at the Charity Commission said:
“This inquiry centres specifically on how the charity handled complaints in 2012 and 2015 about senior members of staff, and how the charity responded to and managed public and media scrutiny of those events in 2018.
“Opening a formal investigation does not necessarily mean that we have concluded that there has been wrongdoing by the trustees of The Save the Children Fund. However, we do have questions that must be answered, and we need to hold the charity formally accountable for providing them in a clear and timely manner.”
Get free email updates
Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]