Anti-racism charity pledges to improve governance following bullying allegations

Kick It Out, the national charity aiming to tackle racism in football, has concluded an internal investigation into allegations of staff bullying at the organisation.

Last December, the Daily Mail reported allegations that some workers had left the charity over the past three years after being “verbally abused” by senior staff.

The charity denied the allegations but opened an independent QC-led investigation into its culture and governance. It has now concluded the review and vowed to improve its governance, support structures and policies for all employees.

Kick It Out has shared the report with the Charity Commission, which has opened a regulatory compliance case into the charity, but refused to publish it publicly.

It said in a statement: “The report will not be made public as those who supported the review were guaranteed anonymity as part of the process.

“We would like to place on record our thanks to all those who contributed to the report and the independent QC for carrying out the review.

“This year will see the arrival of a new chair at Kick It Out and the trustees will support the organisation in putting in place recommendations from the report which include improving governance, support structures and policies for both employees and senior management to ensure all are able to do what Kick It Out does best: ridding football of injustice and prejudice.”

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said: “We have an ongoing regulatory compliance case into the charity Kick It Out.

“We will be reviewing the charity’s recent independent review as part of our case. We cannot comment further at this time.”

‘Staff left for other reasons’

Lord Ouseley, the charity’s founder and chair, announced in December he would step down from the charity after 25 years, however he denied at the time his decision was due to the allegations facing the charity.

In a statement published at the time, he said neither he nor Kick It Out staff had “abused, vilified, harassed or bullied anyone”.

He said: “Staff who have left the organisation during the past three years have done so either to go on to better paid jobs, less stressful occupation, or to establish their own consultancy business or indeed, as is the case in two former staff members, who were already on final warnings for serious misconduct and facing potential disciplinary proceedings, left the organisation voluntarily to avoid the potential consequences.”

However, Ouseley admitted to not informing his fellow trustees or the Charity Commission after one employee made allegations of being sexually abused by someone outside of the organisation.

He said: “I know that the Kick It Out senior staff gave their best endeavours and dedication to the affected staff member.

“Clearly, from my perspective, having been told that the individual did not want to involve the police, which I emphasised should have happened immediately, and wanted the matter resolved in a private manner, I assumed the task of preserving and safeguarding that privacy.

“I hold my hands up as guilty if I should have told my trustees and the Charity Commissioners.”

The charity has an income of £869,000 and currently employs 15 people, according to its latest accounts for the year to June 2018.

Civil Society Media’s Charity People & Culture Conference takes place in September and this year the overall theme is ‘Wellbeing & inclusion in modernisation’. View the programme and book online here.

Written by: Rob Preston

First published 05.08.19:

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