Save the Chil­dren boss fac­ing charges of ha­rass­ment from fe­male staff

Pretoria News - - WORLD -

A CHAR­ITY chief ex­ec­u­tive is set to face calls to re­sign over claims that fe­male staff were not pro­tected from sex pest bosses.

Save the Chil­dren (STC) will be ac­cused of “com­pre­hen­sive fail­ures” in a re­port by the Char­ity Com­mis­sion to­mor­row.

The damn­ing charges fol­low a twoyear in­ves­ti­ga­tion sparked by al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment against two for­mer bosses of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Justin Forsyth, who had been its chief ex­ec­u­tive, was forced to quit a se­nior post with Unicef when the claims emerged in 2018. His for­mer deputy, Bren­dan Cox, the wid­ower of Bri­tish Labour MP Jo Cox, also had to stand down from a char­ity launched in her name.

The scan­dal claimed a third scalp when the char­ity’s chair­man, Sir Alan Parker, quit. In­sid­ers say the watch­dog’s re­port is likely to lead to calls for a fourth res­ig­na­tion – that of Forsyth’s suc­ces­sor, Kevin Watkins. He was a trustee of the char­ity dur­ing the time it al­legedly cov­ered up mis­con­duct.

Fe­male em­ploy­ees claimed in 2018 that Watkins was the fourth mem­ber of the “cosy club of men” re­spon­si­ble for a “cul­ture of com­plic­ity that led to the mis­treat­ment of women”.

Forsyth, 54, was ac­cused of send­ing a bar­rage of “un­suit­able” text mes­sages to fe­male staff at STC. Cox, 44, faced sim­i­lar claims and was ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a se­nior fe­male gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial in the US.

They joined STC after work­ing in Down­ing Street for Gor­don Brown. Both left the char­ity in 2015, Cox after ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions. Forsyth de­nied quit­ting for sim­i­lar rea­sons.

How­ever, both had been ac­cused of mis­con­duct – al­le­ga­tions that were swept un­der the car­pet. Forsyth landed the plum post at Unicef, which was not told about the com­plaints against him.

But he came un­der pres­sure when Cox was forced to re­sign from the Jo Cox Foun­da­tion. It emerged there had been three com­plaints against Forsyth from fe­male STC staff be­tween 2011 and 2015, and he re­signed from his UN job.

The com­mis­sion’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion fo­cused on the char­ity’s fail­ure to sup­port women staff and claims that it pro­tected Forsyth and Cox.

Watkins has al­ways de­nied any wrong­do­ing. Forsyth ad­mit­ted to “per­sonal mis­takes” over send­ing three young women a large num­ber of over-fa­mil­iar text mes­sages.

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