Unicef UK launches internal review after chief executive, chair and vice-chair quit

28 Sep 2020 News

Unicef UK has launched an internal review after bullying allegations against its chair led to high-profile resignations at the charity.

Sacha Deshmukh, the charity’s executive director, reportedly resigned in protest at the board’s response to bullying allegations made against the chair, according to Third Sector. He had only been in the role since April.

Unicef UK’s chair, the former Labour MP Douglas Alexander, denies any wrongdoing but resigned last week due to the inquiry.

Vice-chair Caroline Underwood has also left the charity. In a long statement on Linkedin which was later deleted, she said she was “very, very sad”. She added and that “something has gone horribly wrong” but that she had never witnessed any bullying behaviour.

She wrote: “On a personal day-to-day level, I have only seen Douglas to be considered, compassionate and polite.”

She also said that Deshmukh is “an outstanding individual, determined, focused, passionate”.

Law firm to carry out 'swift and thorough review'

Unicef UK said in a statement on Thursday: “Regarding yesterday’s media coverage about Sacha Deshmukh’s resignation, a full review has been launched by the board, which will be led by an external adviser from the law firm Bates Wells. The review is intended to be swift and thorough.”

The charity has now appointed its treasurer Shatish Dasani as interim chair. It also said the search for a new chair will start immediately.

Sophie Gallois, currently deputy executive director for communication, advocacy and programmes, and Steven Waugh, currently chief financial officer, have been appointed as interim joint executive directors.

Shatish Dasani said: “Unicef UK’s purpose is to make the world a better place for children. The board is looking to ensure that the organisation changes and the implementation of actions arising from the review makes us stronger in fulfilling this purpose.”

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