The National Trust has denied its chair has resigned as a result of reports that a pressure group planned to oust him at the charity’s next annual general meeting.
Several newspapers, including The Telegraph, reported Tim Parker's decision to quit after seven years was made just 24 hours after a rebel group of members, called the Restore Trust, published a number of resolutions that included a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
The Restore Trust was set up in April with the stated aim of questioning the direction the National Trust is taking and engaging the charity’s leadership in an open discussion about its work.
The pressure group published its list of resolutions on 23 May and reports claim the motion has been signed by 50 National Trust members who are upset about what they call the charity’s “woke” policies.
But Third Sector understands that Parker’s decision to step down was shared with the charity’s board of trustees on 18 May.
The Restore Trust has not responded to a request for comment, but in a statement on social media the group welcomed Parker’s decision to resign and called for an “open and accountable” recruitment process.
In a statement on its website published yesterday, the National Trust said it had started the process of replacing Parker following his decision to step down after almost seven years in his role.
The charity said that a search for Parker’s successor had begun before the pandemic began, but was halted to provide stability to the organisation.
“Since his appointment in 2014, Parker has served two full three-year terms as chair of the UK conservation charity,” it said in a statement.
“His final term was due to end in 2020, but a third exceptional term was agreed to provide stability to the organisation during the Covid-19 crisis.”
The trust said it was grateful for the service Parker had given during his seven-year tenure, particularly over the past year.
Parker said: “I thank everyone, not least the many thousands of volunteers, for their fantastic work during these difficult times and I am proud that, because of that work, we are now well on track for a full recovery and we can get on with our fundamental task, which is conservation work across our houses, landscapes and collections.”
The charity has been under fire since it published a report last September that showed connections between 93 of its historic places and colonialism and historic slavery.
The research sparked fierce debate about the charity’s work and caused the Charity Commission to open a compliance case into the National Trust.
In November, Third Sector revealed that just three complaints had been made to the Charity Commission about the National Trust’s work and purpose since it published the report.
The charity has a total membership of more than 5.6 million people.
In March the regulator said it had found no grounds for regulatory action.