Save the Children International chair quits

20 Apr 2018 News

The chair of Save the Children International has stood down from his role following the launch of a Charity Commission investigation into safeguarding, saying that “change is needed”.

Sir Alan Parker announced yesterday that he would be stepping down from the board of Save the Children International. His term was due to end in December this year. 

His resignation follows an investigation launched into Save the Children UK about its handling of serious allegations of misconduct and harassment by senior staff members, where he was formerly chair. In his letter of resignation, Parker wrote that “given the complex mix of challenges the organisation is facing” it is his view that “change is needed”.

Meanwhile, the Charity Commission has called for information on Save the Children UK for its inquiry into misconduct and harassment allegations.

In his letter of resignation, he referred to the harassment cases involving two former staff members, Brendon Cox, widow of murdered MP Jo Cox, and Justin Forsyth, former chief executive of Save the Children UK. At the time of these incidences, Parker was chair of Save the Children UK.

In his letter of resignation sent to his Save the Children colleagues, Parker wrote: “In Save the Children UK we dealt with some unacceptable workplace behaviour, involving harassment, in our head office in Farringdon in 2012 and 2015. The process around Brendan Cox involved a disciplinary panel, including trustees and an independent QC. The processes around Justin Forsyth were handled by HR and senior trustees, and were reviewed by an independent law firm. These issues are now subject to further review by the Charity Commission. This is an important review and I will work with them to assist in any way I can.”

Parker, who has been part of the for the Save the Children movement for ten years, wrote: “Today I am announcing my resignation from the boards of the Save the Children Association and Save the Children International. Given the complex mix of challenges the organisation and the sector is facing, it is my view that a change is needed. I have therefore taken the decision to step down as chair and will do everything I can to support a smooth succession.”

Parker had been facing calls to resign 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 leading these calls.

Pernille Lopez, a trustee of Save the Children International board, said: “We would like to thank Alan for his immense contribution to Save the Children over the past ten years. Under his leadership, we have grown and modernised our organisation, and are now better able to support children living in terrible situations around the world. His vision and commitment will be missed.”

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, chief executive of Save the Children International, said: “I would like to thank Alan for the decade of service he has given to Save the Children. We are deeply grateful for the time and dedication he has invested in our important cause. On a personal note, I have enjoyed working with Alan and we have benefited hugely from his extensive knowledge and energy. 

“As a trustee and now as chair, Alan has worked tirelessly to help us grow to an organisation that works in over 120 countries to reach 50 million children every year. Building on this strong foundation, we will continue to fight for a world where every last child can survive, learn and be protected.”

Call for information

The Charity Commission has published dedicated email addresses for its investigation into Save the Children UK. 

The Commission said it would like to hear from anyone with information which is relevant to the inquiry including misconduct allegations, complaints or incidents involving the charity. The dedicated email address for anyone wishing to contact or submit evidence to the inquiry is [email protected].

The regulator said that the inquiry is confined to the issues of safeguarding in the context of misconduct and harassment of the charity’s staff; it is not examining safeguarding in the context of the charity’s programme delivery for beneficiaries.

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