NSPCC apologises for the way it dropped a transgender activist as an ambassador

The charity had said that it would have 'no ongoing relationship' with Munroe Bergdorf, who had announced her appointment as a Childline ambassador

Munroe Bergdorf (Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images for Christian Dior)
Munroe Bergdorf (Photograph: David M Benett/Getty Images for Christian Dior)

The NSPCC has offered a "full, frank and unreserved" apology after staff uproar about a decision to drop a transgender activist as an ambassador.

Last week, Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender activist, announced on Twitter that she had been appointed as Childline’s "first LGBT+ campaigner".

The decision had been criticised online by some people, including Janice Turner, a columnist at The Times, because Bergdorf had posed for Playboy magazine last year.

The charity then issued a statement denying that Bergdorf had been appointed as an ambassador and said it would have "no ongoing relationship" with her. This in turn prompted significant criticism of the charity in the media and online, with several Twitter users saying they would no longer donate to the charity.

Bergdorf said in a statement that she was sad the charity had backed down in the face of "overt transphobia".

In a new statement made today, Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said the charity should not have cut ties with Bergdorf in the way it did.

"We have let Munroe down in not supporting her through a process with us and in ending the relationship abruptly," the statement said.

"It was our decision, not hers, and she deserved better from us. We know that we need to review our processes and decision-making in relation to how we engage and employ ambassadors, advocates and campaigners in our work."

Wanless denied that the decision was taken because Bergdorf was transgender but "because of her statements on the public record, which we felt would mean that she was in breach of our own risk assessments and [would] undermine what we are here to do".

The statement said those statements were "specific to safeguarding and equality".

Wanless said that the original decision to drop Bergdorf was taken by the charity’s board and was "understood and accepted" by the executive team. He said the decision to contact her to be an ambassador was an error in the charity’s processes.

A review of those processes and management of relationships with ambassadors would now take place, Wanless said.

The charity’s original statement ending its relationship with Bergdorf prompted 148 members of staff to write to the charity’s leadership expressing their "embarrassment and shame" at the charity’s decision, The Guardian reported.

The letter, which was seen by The Guardian, also allegedly said that the staff were concerned that the NSPCC’s decision had replicated the experiences of many trans children "in being subjected to abuse and ridicule and subsequently abandoned".

The NSPCC refused to comment on the content of the letter earlier today, but did confirm the charity was aware of the letter’s existence.

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