On Sunday, Pratt gained notoriety by claiming the charity had received calls about workplace bullying at 10 Downing Street. Within 24 hours, however, a number of serious allegations were levelled against her.
First, claims surfaced that a “political operation” had been launched against the Prime Minister, after it emerged the charity’s headquarters are located just two doors down from a local Conservative party office; two of its (now ex-) patrons, Ann Widdecombe MP and Hillingdon councillor Mary O’Connor, are well-known Tories; and its website even has a commendation from David Cameron displayed prominently on its homepage.
Second, Jo Anne Brown from Just Fight On, another anti-bullying organisation, said she had received several complaints from people claiming Pratt uses the helpline to solicit business for the HR consultancy she runs, HR & Diversity Management. A year ago Adrian Melia became so enraged about the conflict of interest he launched a blog to draw attention to it: The Bullying Helpline – the last thing you need if you’re being bullied. The Charity Commission said yesterday it intends to investigate…
Third, the Charity Commission revealed the charity has failed to provide financial information about its accounting practices. A spokesperson said: “The Charity Commission has sent The National Bullying Helpline three reminders in respect of its outstanding information. These reminders were sent to the charity on the 2 April 2009, 5 June 2009 and 9 August 2009 respectively. We will continue to pursue the charity for its outstanding information.”
Moreover, Bullying UK, yet another anti-bullying organisation, issued a statement saying: “It’s hard to imagine a more serious breach of confidentiality for an anti-bullying charity to reveal details like this where such a small number of people are involved and – much worse – could potentially be identified. It will deter other people from coming forward for help if they think that anti-bullying charities are going to splash their employer’s name all over the media.”
Professor Cary Cooper was the first patron to quit the charity. Ann Widdecombe MP and TV presenter Sarah Cawood followed. “Whoever contacts a bullying helpline has to be reassured that their details will be kept confidential,” remarked Ms. Widdecombe. And according to BBC News councillor Mary O’Connor has also resigned.
** Additional Information & Advice **
Alternatively, you may prefer to seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in employment law.
- Ann Widdecombe resigns from charity over ‘bullying’ row (BBC News)
- Bullying charity in crisis after patrons resign (Telegraph)
- National Bullying Helpline under fire as patrons resign (Guardian)
- Profile: Christine Pratt and the National Bullying Helpline (Guardian)
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