The Daily Mail has criticised the RNLI’s senior management for dismissing volunteers who breached its rules, in an article which appeared on Saturday.
But the charity has said there are “inaccurate statements” in the piece. It said its response to criticism was not “not reflected in the article” and has now published its statement in full online.
Saturday’s article was the latest in a series of pieces that the Mail has run about cases where volunteers have been dismissed for breaches of the RNLI’s code of conduct.
Volunteers have been dismissed for using pornographic mugs at the lifeboat station and for “going on a sea exercise with unauthorised passengers on his lifeboat”, according to the Mail.
It also criticised the charity for having too much money and for being “too popular for its own good — at least when it comes to fundraising”.
The paper went on to highlight the increase in the number of people employed by the charity, particularly the 35 people on salaries over £60,000, and the fact that the charity is recruiting a safeguarding officer on a salary of £41,000.
The Mail said that “disgruntled” volunteers had told it that “many head office staff have become pointless jobsworths”.
‘We provided a full and detailed response’
The RNLI said that it provided the paper with a full response and accused the newspaper of not including its side of the story.
A spokesman told Civil Society News this morning that last week the RNLI put forward three interviewees - its head of lifesaving, lifesaving manager and a volunteer lifeboat operations manager who spent 90 minutes answering questions and correcting inaccuracies. It then sent the written statement as follow up.
It also sent the statement to staff and volunteers so that would be able to respond to questions if asked. Once the article was published the charity spent much of the weekend responding to posts on social media with its side of the story.
“The RNLI provided a full and detailed response to the newspaper which was not reflected in the article," the charity said. "The RNLI also provided interviews with staff and volunteers with decades of operational experience, both in management and at sea.”
In the statement provided to the Mail it said it was “duty bound” to challenge unethical behaviour by lifeboat crews.
"And as a charity, we take our ethical and legal responsibilities very seriously," the statement said. "The examples you have read about recently have involved serious incidents that we were duty bound to challenge.
"We simply will not tolerate lifeboats being taken for joyrides in rough weather without full crew. We don’t accept that hard core, graphic pornography has any place at a lifeboat station. We will not tolerate threats of violence towards our volunteers or staff. We will not stand for bullying or aggressive behaviour."
It added that recent incidents involve under 1 per cent of its volunteers.
RNLI also said: “We cannot operate in the same way we did 30 or 40 years ago, when the world was a very different place, and so we’ve understood the need to change.”