Before the general election in 2010 Christine Pratt of Swindon based HR & Diversity Management Limited – and founder member of the charity National Bullying Helpline – spoke out against bullying in the workplace when it was alleged that bullying was occurring in the offices of 10 Downing Street, under the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Lord Mandelson publically denied that bullying was occurring. Christine responded to raise the importance of following statutory employment procedures.
An investigation was launched in February 2010 by the Charity Commission after complaints that there was a conflict of interest between Mrs Pratt and her company and her role as director of the National Bullying Helpline charity which closed down later in 2010.
The Charity Commission investigation concluded on 31 May 2012 by exonerating Mrs Pratt, pictured, who released this statement:
‘The Charity Commission’s report makes clear that while there were concerns about individuals being identified by our public comments in February 2010, those concerns were never realised.
‘We were pleased when the Information Commissioner’s Office exonerated us of breach of confidentiality. Indeed, the Section 8 Inquiry confirms that no one was named, identified or placed at risk by us. It was never our intention to identify callers publically or to undermine confidence in a confidential service.
‘All we wanted was to campaign, to highlight the specific issue of workplace bullying, (as we had on many occasions), to highlight the legislation in place and the fact that this is a serious problem affecting so many people today.
The Commission’s report also looked at whether there was a potential conflict between the helpline and our business and, despite media and public perception, concluded that there was no evidence, whatsoever, that our business benefited financially from this association.
The Charity Commission statement on Conflict of Interest is clear. “The issue is not the integrity of the individuals involved but the management of any potential to profit from a person’s position with the charity”.
It was found that we did not profit, in any way, from the Charity. We worked as Volunteers and contributed personal funding to the Charity, over many years, in order to ensure that it remained operational. Further, we took all reasonable steps to manage any perceived Conflict of Interest by separating the two operations.
We were not found to be politically motivated either and, finally, no financial irregularity occurred. Our books and records were all in good order.
That left very little, save for minor administrative errors that occurred when we were going through a steep learning curve during the run up to our Charity launch in 2007.
None of this was relevant to the media story that ran in February 2010. As we pointed out to the Commission, we strongly believe that highlighting ‘minor failings in governance’ should be better balanced with the good practice evidenced by the Charity.
We would like to thank the general public who sent in over 600 unsolicited letters and emails of support in February 2010. We would also thank all those who stepped forward to assist us at that time.
The National Bullying Helpline is no longer a registered Charity. However, due to sheer demand, the National Bullying Helpline website and helpline continues to be privately run as a practical source of comfort and support to those who genuinely need it. www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk
HR & Diversity Management Limited. T: 01793 338888 www.hrdiversity.co.uk
See the full report here