Chair of Save the Children International faces renewed call to resign
A former employee of Save the Children UK has renewed calls for the resignation of international chair Sir Alan Parker after the Charity Commission opened an inquiry into trustees’ handling of safeguarding issues.
The Commission yesterday announced a statutory inquiry into Save the Children UK over concerns about its handling of serious allegations of misconduct and harassment by senior staff members in 2012 and 2015.
Parker is now chair of STC International, but until 2015 was chair of STC UK. The two charities are both registered in the UK, and are closely affiliated but legally independent.
The Commission has said it has fresh concerns over the trustees’ actions after corresponding with them in response to inappropriate behaviour and comments by former chief executive Justin Forsyth in 2011 and 2015 and former employee Brendan Cox, reported in February.
Since the incidents came to light, former employee Alexia Pepper de Caires, who is now co-leader of the Women’s Equality Party in Hackney, has been calling for Parker’s resignation as Save the Children International chair.
Last month, de Caires disrupted a Save the Children International boardroom meeting to demand Parker’s resignation in person.
In response the inquiry being opened yesterday, de Caires said: “There have been many opportunities for those involved in the mishandling of reports of sexual harassment to step down and ensure that Save the Children is a safe place for staff, which they have not taken.
“The Charity Commission are well placed to demand the changes that Save the Children should have been striving for themselves, particularly as they belong in the international development sector and advocate for accountability in other countries.
“This inquiry gives the space for all women to contribute their experiences, particularly to ensure the most vulnerable women who I do not believe have yet been heard.”
A Women’s Equality Party spokesperson added: “Those who oversaw these abuses of power must take responsibility, starting with Alan Parker, but the problems go beyond any individual and we hope the Charity Commission investigation will be the start of the process of restoring confidence in the sector.”
Save the Children did not comment directly on de Caires’ comments.
In its response to the investigation opening yesterday, Save the Children UK’s current chair Peter Bennett-Jones said: “It is critical that Save the Children works with the Charity Commission to examine whether mistakes were made in the past.
“If mistakes were made they will be fully acknowledged and properly addressed. We are committed to working with the Charity Commission to establish a truthful and accurate account of events and the charity’s response. If mistakes were made, we will act swiftly and decisively to address them.”