The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has been described as "totally dysfunctional" by its former chair after allegations emerged that senior staff had bullied other employees and made death threats.
According to reports in today’s Times and yesterday’s Guardian newspapers, the BASC, which is a non-profit-making industrial and provident society, has lost its chair and suspended its chief executive after an internal report said the organisation had a culture of fear and intimidation.
Alan Jarrett, chair of the 145,000-member organisation until his resignation in May, commissioned the law firm Hill Dickinson to investigate complaints from some of the organisation’s 110 staff about the directors.
According to The Guardian, the 65-page report alleged that at least two senior figures within the organisation had threatened to kill other staff members, with one saying someone wanted "a bullet between the eyes" and another "I swear I will kill you", although the report said these statements had been denied.
The report also contained allegations that staff who spoke out had been sent threatening letters, The Guardian said.
The board suspended chief executive Richard Ali shortly after Jarrett’s resignation.
In his resignation letter, Jarrett described the organisation, which has an annual income of £9.4m, as "totally dysfunctional" and said there had been a cover-up of its problems. He accused the leadership of failing to safeguard the organisation from financial and reputational damage.
The Times reported that two other board members and the organisation’s director of human resources had also resigned. It claimed that the charity’s head of HR and its director for Wales had been suspended.
A spokesman for the charity declined to confirm or deny the resignations or the alleged suspensions.
After Jarrett’s resignation, North Wales Police were called to a breach of the peace at the association’s Wrexham headquarters after suspended members of staff refused to leave the building, The Times reported.
In response to the articles, the BASC published a letter to The Times on its website, written by the director of communications and acting chief executive Chris Graffius, denying it was in chaos.
"Staff morale is high and work continues apace," the letter said.
"The association is conducting an independent inquiry into the matters your report covers. To protect employment rights and allow due process to be followed, we cannot comment further at this time."