Amnesty International UK chair resigns following mental health tweets

Ciarnan Helferty apologised "for any offence or embarrassment caused by my poor choice of humour"

Ciarnan Helferty issued a number of apologies through Twitter yesterday
Ciarnan Helferty issued a number of apologies through Twitter yesterday

The chair of Amnesty International UK has resigned after making a series of jokes about mental health on his Twitter page.

Ciarnan Helferty, 26, made the comments over a number of months, but they have since been removed from his Twitter page.

In a letter sent to the human rights charity’s supporters yesterday, Sarah O'Grady, vice-chair of AIUK, said: "I am writing to let you know that Ciarnan Helferty has today resigned as chair and board member of AIUK Section and as a trustee of AIUK Charitable Trust.

"Following criticism of tweets which he had made, which included jokes about mental health, Ciarnan immediately apologised and referred himself for investigation under the Board Code of Conduct."

Helferty issued a number of apologies through Twitter, using the following words:

O'Grady said Helferty’s comments were "incongruent" with the policy and aims of AIUK. She added that it would learn lessons from the episode.

O'Grady will lead the board until its next meeting on the 21 September when a new chair will be elected. "The term of the new chair will be until May 2014 when the board will elect a new chair in line with its normal practice." said O'Grady.

Helferty had been a member of the AIUK board for the past five years and chair since May 2011. He was previously chair of the Student Action Network.

AIUK said in a statement that Helferty had demonstrated personal integrity and responsibility by resigning.

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