British Psychological Society chief executive cleared in fraud inquiry

An internal inquiry found that Sarb Bajwa was in no way party to committing fraud, following the arrest of a former staff member

The chief executive of the British Psychological Society has returned to his position after a fraud-related internal inquiry cleared him of any involvement. 

The charity reported an allegation of fraud involving a former staff member to police following an internal investigation last year. 

Sarb Bajwa, chief executive of the BPS, was asked to step aside while the inquiry took place. 

He returned to work yesterday. 

The BPS is the charity that acts as the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK.

It is responsible for the promotion of excellence and ethical practice in the science, education and application of the discipline.

In February this year, Leicestershire Police confirmed to Third Sector that an allegation had been made in relation to the fraudulent use of a credit card, and a woman had been arrested on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position.

A BPS spokesperson said: “Following the arrest of a former member of staff on suspicion of fraud, the trustees requested that Sarb step aside whilst an inquiry into our working practices and processes took place. 

“We would like to make it clear that the inquiry found that Sarb was in no way a party to committing fraud.  

“We believe there are lessons about our working practices and processes, which, as the inquiry found, needed to be tightened and improved. Changes to our working practices and processes were recommended and these have been fully implemented. 

“We all regret that this process has taken a long time, and that the chief executive has been away from the office for longer than was desirable.”

The charity’s trustees said that Bajwa was returning to the BPS with their full support.

Bajwa added: “While I’ve been away from the office for much longer than I would have wanted, I’m returning to a society which, despite the many challenges, has done extraordinary work.  I’m looking forward to continuing our programme of transformational change, serving members and the profession.”

Findings from a report into the culture at the BPS, published by Third Sector at the end of last week, found an “endemic” lack of trust between staff and members and an “us” and “them” mindset.

The BPS expelled its president-elect in May amid allegations of “persistent bullying”, which he said were “baseless and without merit”.

But the report, shared with members two months after the president-elect’s dismissal, concluded there was an "endemic" lack of trust and respect between staff and members and said members had a "lack of access to timely and accurate financial information".

​​Third Sector also revealed in June that the National Council for Voluntary Organisations pulled out of a consultancy contract with the BPS because it felt the charity’s culture would be detrimental to the wellbeing of its consultants.

The previous president of the BPS stood down in April this year due to family commitments.

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