Charity Commission investigating Kick It Out over staff welfare

Lord Ouseley
Kick it Out's founder Lord Ouseley has announced he is to step down as chairman

The Charity Commission is investigating football anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out after concerns were raised about staff welfare.

Based in London and funded by the Football Association, Football League, Premier League and Professional Footballers' Association, Kick It Out currently has 17 employees.

On Tuesday, the Daily Mail reported that 10 members of staff have left since the start of 2016 because of an alleged poor working environment at the charity.

On Wednesday, the newspaper claimed that number could in fact be higher and one of the leavers, a senior member of staff, was threatened with legal action for suggesting they had been bullied.

Then on Thursday, the Mail reported that a "serious incident" took place in 2017, but the charity's only response was to ban alcohol at future staff gatherings - a move the newspaper says angered members of staff who felt the charity's leadership was not taking it seriously enough.

Kick It Out, founded in 1993 by Lord Ouseley, has already said that its board of trustees is investigating the bullying allegations, but the Charity Commission has now started its own review as well.

In a statement, a commission spokeswoman said: "The public rightly expect charities to be safe places where people are free from harm.

"We have been made aware of concerns about the charity Kick It Out. We have opened a regulatory compliance case to assess these concerns."

Kick It Out has not responded to the 2017 serious incident allegation, but in its initial response to the bullying claims it said nobody had raised the issue in an exit interview.

These claims come a week after Lord Ouseley announced he was standing down as chairman after 25 years.

The charity is currently being run by programmes manager Keeley Baptista, while chief executive Roisin Wood recovers from illness. Wood, who was appointed an OBE for tackling discrimination in football, is expected to return to work next month.

Lord Ouseley is still one of the charity's eight trustees, alongside BBC pundit and former Stoke and Tottenham striker Garth Crooks, and the Premier League's head of policy Katherine Allen.

Kick It Out released a statement that read: "In 2017 we were made aware of an incident which involved a member of Kick It Out staff. We offered counselling and support to her and we took all steps to help her.

"The trustees were not informed until October of this year to safeguard the privacy required of the staff member concerned. She decided in September to inform some of the trustees herself.

"They then sent a report to the Charities Commission.

"The member of staff chose at the time not to inform the police but we would support her if she subsequently decided to do so."

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