Awema race equality charity bosses 'bullied staff' claim

Dr Rita Austin, the new chair of Awema, appeared on Dragon's Eye to talk about the measures she has taken since her appointment

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Allegations of bullying and harassment at Wales' foremost race equality charity have been revealed.

Former and current employees said complaints against two bosses at the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (Awema) have not been properly investigated or resolved.

Awema's chief executive Naz Malik is already under fire over alleged financial irregularities.

Mr Malik says he will not comment until investigations are concluded.

The allegations centre around Mr Malik and his daughter, Tegwen Malik, Awema's operations director.

A former trainee who worked at Awema as part of the future jobs fund youth employment scheme gave BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme her opinion of Mr Malik. Naseibah Al-Jeffery told Dragon's Eye: "He's a bully, he's a mean bully.

'Power over people'

"And he would try to intimidate you. And if he found that he could intimidate you, he would do it over and over again.

"He's a man of power. He likes to have power over people. That's what I saw over my six months."

Miss Al-Jeffery also alleges that the equalities body exercised a form of "segregation" in the workplace with different types of staff having to sit at different tables when taking lunch.

Start Quote

I am formally requesting that the South Wales Police open an investigation into the allegations as a matter of urgency”

End Quote Darren Millar Conservative AM

She said: "We were segregated. In terms of segregation, there were future jobs fund and there were staff, and when it came to lunchtime we had to sit on one table and they had to sit on another table."

A current member of staff who did not want to be named said: "It's sad to see that up to this day they can carry on intimidating staff and bullying staff and it is increasingly difficult for staff to continue in their work.

"It is detrimental to a lot of charities. People look at the Awema situation and think that this is probably how all charities are run."

Dragon's Eye last week revealed that millions of pounds of the charity's funding has been suspended by the Welsh government pending an investigation.

Awema's trustees commissioned an investigation by Paul Dunn, the former head of an ethnic minority charity in England.

He recommended that Mr Malik be suspended pending further disciplinary hearing into the allegations. Mr Malik remains in his post following a written warning.

Mr Malik says it would not be appropriate to comment on allegations until the Welsh government concludes its investigations.

Several members of staff, former trustees and Mr Dunn have told Dragon's Eye they have not yet been contacted by the Welsh government.

'Public money'

One former trustee, speaking anonymously, said: "I'm amazed, frankly.

"Had this been any other organisation things would have moved swiftly and nothing is out in the open. These are public bodies, with public money and transparency should be there.

"Why haven't any board members and Awema ex-board members been interviewed?

"Since we lodged our report to the police and Welsh assembly government and the Charity Commission, nothing has happened. Nobody has been contacted."

Conservative AM Darren Millar, chairman of the assembly's public accounts committee, has written to the chief constable of South Wales Police asking for a full investigation, insisting that he no longer has confidence in the current investigation.

"Therefore I am formally requesting that the South Wales Police open an investigation into the allegations as a matter of urgency," he writes.

On Wednesday the Welsh government's permanent secretary Dame Gillian Morgan told Mr Millar's committee that Awema should have been graded "high risk".

The Welsh government, which is liaising with the police, says it will update assembly members on its investigation on Monday.

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