More key witnesses in Tell Jane probe of CIoF say their evidence was excluded

More key witnesses in the Tell Jane probe into the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints have expressed concern that their evidence was excluded from the investigation.

One witness described the situation as “ridiculous” and said it had created confusion as to what evidence Tell Jane had actually used to draw its conclusions.

Tell Jane said all "relevant evidence" was considered in its inquiry. 

The investigation, which was commissioned by the CIoF, examined whether the membership body’s then-chief executive, Peter Lewis, had failed to act on disclosures made to him in 2014 about a sexual assault alleged to have been perpetrated by a CIoF member. 

The CIoF announced on Wednesday last week that the investigation had found “no wrongdoing” by Lewis and initially claimed no disclosure had been made to him, but later admitted the investigation was in fact “unable to find sufficient evidence” of a complaint made to Lewis. A complaint was probably made to someone at the CIoF, Tell Jane said. 

Neither the report nor a full summary of the findings has so far been published.

On Monday, the fundraising consultant Beth Upton tweeted that she had been one of the complainants in the case.

She said she had been told by a CIoF trustee who had seen the report that she was not considered to be a witness in the Lewis investigation and her testimony had not been included in the Tell Jane investigation.  

A second complainant, who asked not to be identified, has come forward and said she was also told that her evidence had not been included in the Lewis investigation. 

Like Upton, this second complainant was invited to a call with Tell Jane to give testimony about both the allegation of sexual misconduct, and the allegation that Lewis had been told but failed to act on it. 

Lewis has said that no complaint or disclosure was made to him in 2014 and that he always dealt with any such matters in accordance with the institute's complaints and disciplinary processes.

Despite speaking to Tell Jane on both matters, the second complainant said she was told that she had refused to testify on the allegations against Lewis.

A further witness, the former fundraiser Mandy Johnson, said she was also told that her evidence had not been included in the investigation into Lewis’ actions. 

Upton told Third Sector: “As witnesses, we are in a ridiculous situation where we’re unsure which of us exactly was the complainant – and if none of us is the complainant, what is the complaint?

“If they didn’t use our evidence, then what evidence did they use?”

Third Sector has been told that evidence given by a CIoF trustee who conducted an internal investigation into the allegations in 2019 might have been included in the Lewis investigation.

The CIoF has previously acknowledged that the Tell Jane investigation found “significant failings in the institute’s processes in 2019” when this investigation was carried out.  

Upton told Third Sector that if it was the case that only the trustee’s evidence had been used, “that feels like a very narrow boundary for an investigation”. 

The investigation into the allegation of sexual misconduct itself is still ongoing and is expected to conclude at the end of the month. The three women's testimony will be included in this investigation, Third Sector understands.

The CIoF has previously said it was “taking legal advice” to allow it to share the findings of the Lewis investigation “when we have the  full information available”, but did not respond in time for Third Sector’s deadline on this story.

In a statement, a Tell Jane spokeswoman said the company was “an independent organisation committed to impartiality”.

She said: “We can confirm that all relevant evidence submitted to the investigator has and will be considered. We encourage everyone with an interest in these matters to wait for the process to be concluded.”

She said the company was unable to provide any further details due to its duty of confidentiality.

Tell Jane has previously called for the CIoF to share the full findings of the report.

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