Unicef UK trustee who was dragged into leadership dispute steps down early

The charity says Kirsty Gill, who chaired the charity's people committee, has decided to leave because of increased work commitments

A trustee at Unicef UK who was involved in the row that led to the departure of the charity’s executive director and chair has stepped down early because of expanding work commitments.

The human resources expert Kirsty Gill was appointed to the Unicef UK board in June 2019 on a term of up to three years, but records filed with Companies House show she stepped down on 10 March, 20 months in.

Last year, Third Sector revealed that Sacha Deshmukh, Unicef UK’s executive director, resigned after making allegations of bullying behaviour against Douglas Alexander, the charity’s chair.

Alexander, who was cleared of any bullying allegations in a subsequent independent investigation, also stepped down at the time the claims were made.

Deshmukh claimed he had first raised concerns about Alexander’s behaviour with Gill, who was chair of the charity’s people committee, a month before.

Deshmukh’s concerns about Alexander’s behaviour culminated in a three-way conversation involving Gill to discuss the issues, according to a letter sent by Deshmukh to the charity’s board.

A spokesperson for Unicef UK told Third Sector this week: “Sadly, Kirsty Gill has decided to step down as a trustee due to her expanding work commitments.

“On behalf of everyone at Unicef UK, we would like to thank her for her years of dedication and hard work in helping the wider organisation secure positive change for children around the world.”

The spokesperson said the decision was not related to the Deshmukh case.

They also said the charity had appointed three new board members: Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the British Asian Trust; Maggie Atkinson, former Children’s Commissioner for England; and Matt Ferguson, director of development and alumni engagement at Warwick University, for terms of three years each.

The recruitment process for a permanent executive director and chair continues, the spokesperson said.

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