Unicef appoints different law firm to review bullying allegations

09 Oct 2020 News

Unicef has changed the law firm that will carry out an independent review of the UK board's conduct because it had an existing client relationship with the first firm it appointed.

Last month, Sacha Deshmukh, the charity’s executive director, reportedly resigned in protest at the board’s response to bullying allegations made against its chair, according to Third Sector. 

The charity then announced an external review into the allegations. On 24 September, it released a statement saying that the review would be led by an external adviser from the law firm Bates Wells.

However, it has now announced that Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK, “a leading international law firm with strong UK charity sector and investigation experience”, will be conducting the review.

A spokesperson said: “Unicef UK has an existing relationship with Bates Wells and on reflection we felt it was best to have an independent law firm that doesn’t have an existing client relationship with Unicef UK to conduct the external review.”

The former Labour MP Douglas Alexander denies any wrongdoing but resigned as chair last month. Vice-chair Caroline Underwood also left the charity. 

Unicef UK to publish the findings of the review

Initially, Unicef said that a “full” review had been launched by “the board”, and that it was meant to be “swift and thorough”.

Yesterday the charity said that the review had begun and that it has been “jointly” commissioned by both global UNICEF and Unicef UK.

The law firm independently determined the review’s “terms of reference” in order to make sure that it is “comprehensive, fair and impartial”. It will be looking at allegations made by Deshmukh and any other staff members against the former chair, as well as into the board’s conduct in response to the allegations and in dealing with Deshmukh’s resignation.

Unicef UK will publish the findings on its website and make them available to the Charity Commission.

The charity has not shared any details on when the review is expected to be completed.

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