RNLI upholds removal of volunteers over 'hardcore pornography'

12 Jun 2018 News

The RNLI has upheld a decision to remove two volunteers from its Whitby lifeboat station, which led to criticism in the Daily Mail and other newspapers.

The RNLI said in a statement today that the volunteers had posted images of hardcore pornography and had made inappropriate use of social media which “went far beyond banter” and had targeted other staff without their knowledge.

It said one of the main incidents involved producing a mug bearing a “hardcore pornographic image of a fellow crew member” and that “the actual image produced by the volunteer was so graphic that no newspaper would be able to print it without breaking the law”. 

It said mock-ups of the mug which had appeared in the Daily Mail and other newspapers were misleading.

The other incident involved a crew member whose social media activity had “targeted a member of RNLI staff without their knowledge and produced graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter”. 

It said its decision had been made “following a fair and robust investigation process” and no evidence had been produced to challenge that process. 

‘We will continue to challenge inappropriate behaviour’ 

In the statement the charity said it would continue to challenge inappropriate behaviour. 

“Like any emergency service, the RNLI sets high standards and expects all its volunteers and staff to set an example, not just in terms of their maritime expertise but also in their behaviour and respect for others,” it said. 

It urged the local community in Whitby to continue to support its volunteers. 

“The remaining volunteer crew at Whitby are working closely with the RNLI to operate an effective lifesaving operation at Whitby lifeboat station. We would ask the local community to continue to support our volunteers, in what has been a challenging time, as they remain dedicated to saving lives on the Yorkshire coast,” it said.


Full RNLI statement 

Following a fair and robust investigation and appeal process, we have upheld our decision to stand down two crew members from Whitby RNLI.

Volunteers are entitled to appeal against our decisions and each case is considered on an individual basis. In this case, no new evidence was presented to us and we stand by our original decision.

We recognise the years of dedication it takes to become a crew member and do not stand volunteers down lightly. But, like any emergency service, the RNLI sets high standards and expects all its volunteers and staff to set an example, not just in terms of their maritime expertise but also in their behaviour and respect for others. 

One volunteer was stood down for social media activity which targeted a member of RNLI staff without their knowledge and produced graphic sexual images which went far beyond banter. 

The other volunteer produced a hardcore pornographic image of a fellow crew member on a mug. Some newspapers created their own image of a mug, but the actual image produced by the volunteer was so graphic that no newspaper would be able to print it without breaking the law.

We will continue to challenge any inappropriate behaviours and practices by staff or volunteers, and we do this for the thousands of volunteers who are committed to doing the right thing as they operate our 238 lifeboat stations 24/7.

The remaining volunteer crew at Whitby are working closely with the RNLI to operate an effective lifesaving operation at Whitby lifeboat station. We would ask the local community to continue to support our volunteers, in what has been a challenging time, as they remain dedicated to saving lives on the Yorkshire coast.
 

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