One Year on, the Unacceptable Professionally Unaccountable Face Of Registered Charities
Almost 12 months after legitimate and valid complaints were first made about domains purchased, registered and legally owned by Commission for Patient and Public Involvment in Health Commissioner and Mental Health Foundation Senior Policy Advisor David Keay being involved in targetting porn and drug content at people with or an interest in Mental Health issues these domains , which at one point he craftilly transferred away from himself, suddenly ceased this targetting but not before the Mental Health Foundation, Together , Comic Relief , the Charity Commission and the Independent Complaints Reviewer proved how professionally unaccountable and unwilling they were to intervene to protect the intended beneficiaries of the charity Mr Keay worked for .
This shortsighted all round lack of professional accountability also compromised the embryonic national service user network whose service user committee members simply could not understand why they and the new £750, 000 iniative - £500,000 alone from Comic Relief - had become embroiled in Mr Keay's undeclared online activities targetted at the networks intended audience.
Comic Relief had a chance to intervene. Its Director sat on his hands , arrogantly and dismissively responding to complaints through the e-mail account of his film production company because Comic Relief unfortunately clearly belongs to the over 70% of registered charities - stats from the Independent Complaints Reviewers 2006 Annual Report - which lack a professional, structured and meaningful complaints process and or part of the even higher percentage of registered charities who do not feel they need a complaints process at all.
Comic Relief will never get another penny from me again - and a growing number of people have echoed the same sentiment- unless and until it demonstrates that the intended beneficiaries of money donated to it and ordinary members of the public who donate that money have access to structured professional complaints process if they see Comic Relief is doing something wrong.
Here it was giving half a million pounds to an iniative fronted by a man involved in targetting the very people that money was intended to assist with porn and drug content.
Comic Relief's Director Peter Bennett Jones whole attitude appears to be that members of the public have no right to question how Comic Relief , a major grant awarding body, operates behind its high profile plastic Red nose, assuming it is is immoral to question charities like his when in fact it is ammoral of Comic Relief and Mr Bennett Jones to ask people to dig deeply in their pockets for worthy causes without Comic Relief having any structured complaints mechanism in place to deal with complaints even where there is a track record of abuse and /or failure to audit use of charitable funds for effectiveness.
Mr Bennett Jones is still in a position to put things right.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, the Director of Mental Health Media, on the other hwent even further , he took the trouble of having his charity's Chairman secretly circulate a dossier on me as if I were a) personally responsible for Mr Keay's objective involvment with the targetting of drug and porn content and, b) as a private individual and mental health service user , somehow more professionally accountable for my actions than he, Mr Keay or any or all of the above are.
This was an appallingly cynical and deliberately self-serving abuse and waste of the Mental Health Foundations charitable funds, resources and time and we know it was because the moment public scrutiny began to fall on the targetting I and other MH service users complained about, through this blog, petitions and other MH websites, someone put pressure on Mr Keay to ensure that the targetting he was involved with stopped.
Now that Mr Keay has finally acted in a professionally responsible way, it is possible to move on but bearing in mind the sheer number of organisations and people this issue has compromised in the year it took him and the Mental Health Foundation to act professionally I believe Mr Keay and Dr McCulloch should now seriously consider their positions as their actions - an arrogant refusal to just do the right thing in the first place - have raised serious questions about the way registered charities and the Charity Commission operate .
Dr McCulloch has also repeatedly claimed that this issue is personal and constantly made hollow threats to sue service users for even openly discussing this matter never once thinking about his Senior Policy Advisors personal and professional responsibility for his own actions and the fact that the Mental Health Foundation is also part of the over 70% of registered charity's that doesnt have a structured professional complaints process .
In fact, Dr Andrew McCulloch personally and pointlessly protected his Senior Policy Advisor at the expense of the Mental Health Foundation's and his own reputations. That was personal and the only reason McCulloch got himself and his charity into this mess is because he has ensured that his charity has been managed by personality rather than any reognisable professional standards or procedures when it comes to investigating complaints.
I for one want to see this issue and the lessons that can be learned from it included in the recently announced public consultation on reforming the way the Charity Commission handles and investigates complaints and Jodi Berg the solicitor who holds the appointment of the Independent Complaints Reviewer also needs to consider her position as she cannot possibly claim to be an objective party in this issue .Ms Berg knew that the targetting was wrong and yet she sat back and, at one point even suggested that service users contact the police rather than the Charity Commission or her, as growing public pressure and disdain for Ms Berg's and her teams bias and icy detachment forced the year long targetting to stop.
The main lesson learned? That the Charity Commission and the ICR are a waste of public money if it requires the intended beneficiaries of charitable funds , mental health service users with the help of carers in this case, a year to have a Senior Policy Advisor with a major mental health charity cease and desist from using domains he purchased, registered and owned to stop targetting them with porn.
The targetting should have ceased a year ago and it is both pathetic and scandalous that it took a long and drawn out publicly campaign and petition to force the Mental Health Foundation's Senior Policy Advisor to stop targetting drug and porn content at the people his charity was funded to serve because, and only because, his Director and the registered charity regulatory authorities decided to look the other way or bury their heads in the sand.
Please sign up to the pledge calling for more professional accountability from registered charities wont harm charities , it will better ensure that they stick to their aims and objectives and that any money you donate goes to the causes or people they claim to be serving.