Equality charity chair hits back over 'shoddy' investigation

Report alleged the head of the All Wales Ethnic Minorities Association misused funds

The Senedd
The Senedd

The chair of an anti-discrimination charity has criticised the validity of a damning report into her organisation that prompted the Welsh Government to open an investigation.

Rita Austin, chair of the All Wales Ethnic Minorities Association, sent a statement to the Charity Commission last week after the report, which was commissioned by trustees of the organisation before Austin joined, claimed that its chief executive, Naz Malik, had paid off more than £9,000 of personal credit card debt using the charity’s money.

The investigation, conducted by Paul Dunn, former chief executive of Equality South West, made other accusations, including that Malik had increased his own salary without approval from the board, and given his daughter a job and several promotions without any internal or external competition.

Following the publication of the report the Charity Commission asked to meet trustees to discuss "current concerns regarding the charity".

Austin said in a statement, seen by Third Sector, that trustees did not follow proper governance procedures in appointing Dunn.

She also criticised Dunn for not testing the allegations he made in his report "against even the most basic test of reasonableness" and questions what factual evidence there was to support them.

"I am forced to conclude that this Paul Dunn investigation is quite the most shoddy, unfinished, unfocussed, inconclusive investigation it has been my misfortune to receive," she said.

"It casts more heat than light. It concludes where it begins by repeating allegations but providing no analysis as to why it is reasonable to make these allegations."

Austin said in the statement that she has accused Malik of "gross misconduct", but has not suspended him, as Dunn’s report recommended.

Instead she said Malik had been subject to a disciplinary hearing and had been given written and oral warnings. She said she followed this up by sending a serious incident report to the commission and the police. Finally, she denies being "personal friends" with Malik.

Dunn denied all of Austin’s accusations. "I did collect evidence for all of the accusations but I am not going to send it back to the chair," he said. "I will provide it to any relevant authorities though."

Malik said he would not be making any comment on the matter until the government had published its investigation.

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said its report on the charity would be published this week.

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