The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF)'s trustees have “completely and unreservedly” apologised for failing to contact those involved in its recent investigation ahead of making the outcome public.
In a statement, this afternoon trustees said they mistakenly thought this was being done as part of the investigation.
Last week the CIoF announced that an independent investigation had cleared its former chief executive, Peter Lewis, of wrongdoing.
It said the investigation was opened following an allegation on social media that a complaint of sexual harassment was made to Lewis in 2014, which he did not act upon.
Following the publication of the outcome, people who had been involved in the investigation said they had not been contacted about the outcome of the investigation before it was published by CIoF and details sent to the media.
Claire Rowney, chair of the CIoF, had responded on Twitter that the board was informed that all witnesses had been contacted by Tell Jane. The CIoF now admits that this was incorrect.
Tell Jane, the firm investigating the handling of sexual harassment claims at The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF), has said it was not told to notify victims or witnesses as to the outcome of the investigation.
'We want to say sorry to those who will inevitably have been affected by our mistake'
The CIoF's board of trustees said: “We completely and unreservedly apologise for our failure to contact the women involved in the recent investigation ahead of making the outcome public last week. We thought this was being done as part of the investigation, but we got that wrong and want to say sorry to those who will inevitably have been affected by our mistake.
“Witnesses and complainants involved in investigations like these must be treated with respect and put at the heart of the process. We have failed to do that, and for that we as trustees, and on behalf of the whole Chartered Institute, are truly sorry. While we know that the anger and hurt caused by our failure cannot be undone, we are now making the changes needed to make sure that this never, ever, happens again.
“We will be contacting the women involved to offer our apologies directly and to also offer any support that we can now provide.”
The investigation into accusations of sexual harassment by a member is ongoing.
Investigators recommend CIoF publish the findings in full
Tell Jane has said “it is not the role of an investigator to communicate the results of an investigation with witnesses” and is the responsibility of the CIoF.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the firm said: “Tell Jane was instructed by CIoF to conduct an independent investigation into issues relating to sexual harassment.
“Tell Jane specialises in preventing workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination. We are an independent organisation of seasoned HR consultants and investigators who are committed to equality and impartiality.
“We dispute any mention, comment or suggestion that Tell Jane were instructed to notify victims or witnesses as to the outcome of our investigation. At no point did we receive instruction by the CIoF to notify victims or witnesses involved in the investigation into Peter Lewis nor did we confirm that we would do so.
“It is not the role of an investigator to communicate the results of an investigation with witnesses. This is the responsibility of the CIoF on receipt of a full investigation report, which we provided.”
It now “highly recommends” the CIoF publish the findings in full. The CIoF previously said it was agreed that it would be a confidential report to the board, in order to give witnesses reassurances of confidentiality.
Tell Jane’s statement adds: “Tell Jane was established to cultivate open and honest organisational cultures where victims and witnesses feel able to speak out against harassment, bullying and discrimination. We therefore highly recommend that witnesses and victims are notified about the outcome to this investigation by the organisation themselves and that the CIoF publish the findings in full.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide more information or specific details about the current or future investigations due to client confidentiality.”