National Bullying Helpline suspends services

Statement on charity's website says it is 'extremely sorry' and Christine Pratt will resign 'if necessary'

The National Bullying Helpline has suspended its helpline while it considers its future in the wake of the furore over its claims that it received calls from staff at 10 Downing Street.

Christine Pratt, chief executive of the charity, was heavily criticised by The Helplines Association and another bullying charity, Bullying UK, over the claims, which they said were a breach of confidentiality

All four of the charity's patrons, including the Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, have since resigned. The Charity Commission, which said on Monday it would look into complaints about it, said today it was now reviewing a previous complaint, received in 2008.

In a statement on its website, the NBH says that "due to the situation at this time" it is temporarily suspending its helpline.

"Competitor anti-bullying charities, individuals with an axe to grind and a few others have forced our hand," the statement reads. "We are extremely sorry for any distress this may cause to those who need help right now. We apologise also to those who are detrimentally affected by this situation – we include all charities doing very good work across the UK."

It says the trustees are "currently considering the future of the charity" and that Pratt, who receives no payment from the charity, is prepared to resign if necessary. "However, this will necessitate the appointment of a paid CEO, which is a luxury we have not been able to afford in the past," it says.

The charity's latest accounts are more than 200 days overdue, but its accounts for 2006/07 show its income was £1,800 during that year.

The statement insists the charity is not "politically driven in any way". It says: "We would be pleased to meet Gordon Brown, to whom we wish no ill, if it would help to remedy the situation."

It also criticises the patrons for resigning "at a time when we needed them most. It is a shame that not one of them ever visited our charity offices to see how we operate or meet with our volunteers and trustees, despite request [sic]."



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