The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has apologised “completely and unreservedly” for failing to contact witnesses before the findings of an investigation into its handling of sexual misconduct allegations were published.
The membership body admitted it had failed to treat witnesses and complainants with respect, or to put them at the heart of the investigation process.
The apology came after the consultancy Tell Jane, which conducted the investigation, issued a statement denying that it had promised to communicate the results with witnesses and survivors before they were made public.
Tell Jane also called for the CIoF to release the full findings of the report, which examines an accusation that the CIoF’s former chief executive Peter Lewis failed to act when allegations of sexual assault were reported to him in 2014.
On Wednesday, the CIoF announced that Tell Jane had found “no wrongdoing” by Lewis, and later clarified that Tell Jane had found no disclosure was made to him in 2014.
The report itself was not published.
Several people, including the fundraising consultant Beth Upton, who came forward as one of the complainants in the case, criticised the CIoF for failing to inform witnesses and survivors about the result before it was made public.
In a statement issued to Third Sector on Thursday, a CIoF spokesman claimed Tell Jane “informed everyone who gave evidence to or took part in the investigation as to the outcome of the investigation”.
But this afternoon, Tell Jane issued a statement to Third Sector denying this was the case.
“We dispute any mention, comment or suggestion that Tell Jane was instructed to notify victims or witnesses as to the outcome of our investigation,” a Tell Jane spokeswoman said.
“At no point did we receive instruction by the CIoF to notify victims or witnesses involved in the investigation into Peter Lewis nor did we confirm that we would do so.
“It is not the role of an investigator to communicate the results of an investigation with witnesses. This is the responsibility of the CIoF on receipt of a full investigation report, which we provided.”
She went on to say that Tell Jane’s consultants “highly recommend witnesses and victims are notified about the outcome to this investigation by the organisation themselves and that the CIoF publishes the findings in full”.
She said the company was unable to provide more information or specific details about the current or future investigations “due to client confidentiality”.
In response, the CIoF board of trustees said in a statement: "We completely and unreservedly apologise for our failure to contact the women involved in the recent investigation ahead of making the outcome public last week.
“We thought this was being done as part of the investigation, but we got that wrong and want to say sorry to those who will inevitably have been affected by our mistake.
“Witnesses and complainants involved in investigations like these must be treated with respect and put at the heart of the process.
“We have failed to do that, and for that we as trustees, and on behalf of the whole Chartered Institute, are truly sorry.
“While we know that the anger and hurt caused by our failure cannot be undone, we are now making the changes needed to make sure that this never, ever, happens again. We will be contacting the women involved to offer our apologies directly and to also offer any support that we can now provide.”
Tell Jane did not comment on Upton’s allegations that her testimony had not been included in the investigation, or that the scope of the investigation into Lewis had been kept narrow deliberately to guarantee the “no wrongdoing” conclusion.
Both of these allegations appeared in a Third Sector story alongside the CIoF’s assertion that Tell Jane had informed all witnesses of the outcome.
A Tell Jane investigation into the allegations of sexual assault themselves is still ongoing, and is expected to report back in a few weeks’ time.