An independent investigation has cleared the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF)'s former chief executive of any wrongdoing, the membership body said today.
Peter Lewis left the CIoF earlier this year after a decade in the role.
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.
HR Consultancy Tell Jane was appointed to conduct an independent investigation and the conclusion has been submitted to The Chartered Institute’s board.
The report has not been shared publicly. CIoF said that in order to give witnesses reassurances it was agreed that it would be a confidential report to the board, with the outcome alone published.
Peter Lewis: ‘I have been clear throughout that no complaint or disclosure was ever made to me’
Peter Lewis said no complaint was ever made to him, and that he is “glad that creating safe and inclusive spaces for everyone remains a priority”.
He said: “The last few months have been difficult for me personally but my thoughts are with those who have been let down by our past complaints handling, policies and procedures. I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who has suffered harm. It’s vitally important to ensure that the fundraising community is safe.
“I volunteered for the allegation of not acting on a complaint to be investigated independently, and that investigation has now cleared me of any wrongdoing. I have been clear throughout that no complaint or disclosure was ever made to me.”
Lewis added that under his leadership CIoF “started to improve its handling of complaints about sexual harassment”.
He added: “I am glad that creating safe and inclusive spaces for everyone remains a priority for the Chartered Institute moving forward.”
Chartered Institute board: ‘Our culture and processes have let people down in the past’
The Chartered Institute said Tell Jane’s investigation included a review of all available evidence, sought new evidence and made direct contact with parties involved.
Responding to the conclusion of Tell Jane’s investigation, trustees of the Chartered Institute said: “The independent investigation conducted by Tell Jane into the allegation that Peter Lewis received a complaint in 2014, and did nothing about it, found no wrongdoing on Peter’s part.”
The board added that Lewis also played no part in the investigation into a member’s conduct in 2019 due to the potential conflict of interest.
The independent investigation into the complaint of sexual harassment against a member of the Chartered Institute is ongoing.
The board said: “We know that our culture and processes have let people down in the past and recognise that these have led to individuals not feeling supported to raise concerns or make complaints about harassment”, and “we are truly sorry”.
In March 2021, the board agreed on an action plan that accepted in full recommendations by Tell Jane to ensure CIoF and the profession is more inclusive of and safe for all fundraisers.
Members have been advising on these changes and new advisory groups are being set up to lead and champion this work within the Chartered Institute and the profession.
Progress on this will be reported at the AGM on 5 July.
Chair of the Chartered Institute: ‘It is enormously important to me that we get things right for victims’
Claire Rowney, chair of the Chartered Institute, said: “I would like to thank Tell Jane for the thorough and independent investigation. It is enormously important to me that we get things right for victims of bullying, harassment and abuse in the sector.
“My commitment, and that of my fellow trustees, to improving both our internal processes and the culture in the sector is unwavering and we continue to recognise there is a great deal to achieve. We thank the fundraising community for their support, feedback and participation in driving improvements for all fundraisers in the future.”