Emergency resolution calls for three senior leaders to be removed from Amnesty International UK

Amnesty International UK members could be asked to vote on an emergency resolution to remove three senior leaders from their positions at the organisation’s annual general meeting next month.

Of two emergency resolutions that were submitted by members on Sunday, the first calls for the removal of Eilidh Douglas, chair of the board; Susan Jex, co-opted leader of the board's human resources subcommittee; and Sharon Levell, a board member and former vice-chair.

The second resolution demands a comprehensive independent review of racism and wider workplace culture and management failings at AIUK, with input from current and former staff.

The resolutions say they have been put forward due to the failure of key board members to address racism at the organisation over several years.

Senior leaders at Amnesty have been under fire since the publication of an internal review in April that found incidents of overt racism at its international secretariat, a separate body that is also based in the UK.

The resolutions echo earlier calls by Unite the union and two former trustees, who both called for AIUK’s leadership to step down.

Kate Allen, chief executive of AIUK, stepped down from her position last week, earlier than planned, amid ongoing concerns that its leadership was not doing enough to tackle institutional racism.

She was originally due to leave in September after more than 20 years in post.

Sacha Deshmukh was named as AIUK’s interim chief executive and will lead the organisation until at least January next year while it searches for a permanent successor.

The resolutions are included in a letter that will be sent out to all AIUK members before the AGM next month.

The letter, which already has more than 20 signatories, says: “Let us say that we do not believe the chair of the section board should, under any circumstances, continue in her role.

“We do not believe that the head of the HR subcommittee should continue in her role.

“While we agree with the board that immediate and significant changes were needed within the management of the section, we do not believe that two new members of senior management are a good – or, indeed, ethical, practical or coherent – solution.

“While we are glad to see interim leadership in place, we are outraged and infuriated that this appointment was made without any consultation with staff or activists, by a body who has demonstrably failed in their duties to oversee management of the staff body.

“The way it was announced to staff is inconsiderate and disrespectful in the extreme.”

AIUK said the emergency resolutions had been received and would need to be approved by the AGM’s Standing Orders Committee, which was elected directly by AIUK members and independent from the boards.

A spokesperson said: "Both the current section board chair and vice-chair have already offered to step aside, to create space for fresh leadership, in an orderly way which ensures the governance of the organisation at this critical time.

"The election process for selecting new members of the section board is currently underway. At their meeting in September, the new section board will elect its new chair and vice-chair for the coming years."

AIUK said it was critical there was no gap in the section board's ability to function so Douglas would continue to chair the board until that time. She will be assisted by the new vice-chair, Sen Raj, who has been elected by the board to provide an immediate refresh to the board's leadership.

"The boards believe that any further changes in their composition beyond the natural cycle of board term completions and renewals and/or new personnel joining the section and trust boards are not only unnecessary but would also be damaging to the interests of AIUK staff, supporters and our cause," the spokesperson said.

The AGM will take place on 19 June. 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in