Save the Children International chairman quits

Sir Alan Parker faced calls to step down after the charity was accused of failing to deal adequately with sexual harassment by senior executives

Sir Alan Parker
Sir Alan Parker

Sir Alan Parker has resigned as chairman of Save the Children International amid accusations that the charity failed to deal adequately with sexual harassment by senior executives.

A statement issued yesterday evening by the charity said Parker had stepped down from the boards of both the Save the Children Association and Save the Children International.

He was due to step aside anyway in December after serving 10 years on the Save the Children boards.

The children’s charity has faced allegations that it failed to investigate inappropriate behaviour by senior staff.

Earlier this month, the Charity Commission opened an inquiry into the charity over its handling, reporting and response to claims of misconduct and harassment by senior staff.

The charity has been hit by a number of revelations in recent months about past sexual misconduct by former senior employees, including inappropriate texts sent to female staff members by the charity's former chief executive Justin Forsyth.

The allegations about Forsyth were investigated by the charity in 2011 and 2015, and Forsyth left his role in 2015. He stood down as deputy executive director of Unicef after the allegations emerged in February. 

There have also been allegations against Brendan Cox, the charity’s former policy director and widower of the murdered MP Jo Cox, of inappropriate behaviour towards women

Cox left Save the Children in 2015 and admitted last month that he had "made mistakes" during his time at the charity.

In March, protesters from the Women's Equality Party interrupted a Save the Children board meeting to call for Parker to resign as chair of Save the Children International.

In his resignation letter, he said: "Given the complex mix of challenges the organisation and the sector is facing, it is my view that a change is needed. I have therefore taken the decision to step down as chair and will do everything I can to support a smooth succession."

Addressing the allegations, he said: "In Save the Children UK we dealt with some unacceptable workplace behaviour, involving harassment, in our head office in Farringdon in 2012 and 2015.

"The process around Brendan Cox involved a disciplinary panel, including trustees and an independent QC. The processes around Justin Forsyth were handled by HR and senior trustees, and were reviewed by an independent law firm.

"These issues are now subject to further review by the Charity Commission. This is an important review and I will work with them to assist in any way I can."

Pernille Lopez, speaking on behalf of the boards, thanked Parker for his "immense contribution" to the charity.

"Under his leadership, we have grown and modernised our organisation, and are now better able to support children living in terrible situations around the world," she said. "His vision and commitment will be missed."

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