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Home Breaking RNLI Under Investigation Amid Allegations of Misconduct and Misuse of Funds

RNLI Under Investigation Amid Allegations of Misconduct and Misuse of Funds

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), a revered 200-year-old lifeboat charity, is now under scrutiny by the Charity Commission following serious allegations from former staff and volunteers. The accusations include assaults, bullying, sexism, and the misuse of donations for silencing victims.

Key Allegations and Resignations Stephen Holford, a former volunteer at Southend lifeboat station, resigned in 2016 after alleging years of bullying, assault, and harassment. He recounted incidents of being physically assaulted by a senior volunteer and facing hostility within the organization. Another volunteer described his time at the RNLI as ‘wasted years’ and labelled the charity as ‘disgusting and wrong to the core.’

Investigation by the Charity Commission The Charity Commission has initiated a regulatory compliance case against the RNLI, focusing on claims that it used non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and donations to silence victims. These allegations cast a shadow over the RNLI’s upcoming 200th anniversary, raising concerns about its internal culture and management practices.

Incidents of Assault and Sexism The investigation follows reports of physical assault at an RNLI Christmas fundraiser and systemic sexism within the organization. One woman volunteer claimed she was verbally abused during a rescue mission. A reported case of assault at the fundraiser led to a conditional caution and a fine for the perpetrator.

RNLI’s Response The RNLI has stated that it took robust action regarding the allegations and investigated additional claims. However, due to confidentiality concerns, it has not disclosed further details. Regarding the use of NDAs, the RNLI claimed compliance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority guidance and asserted that these agreements do not prevent reporting to authorities.

Concerns Over ‘Hush Money’ Former employees and volunteers have raised concerns that public donations are being used as ‘hush money’ to cover up internal issues. The RNLI, however, defended its use of NDAs, stating that they are employed in dispute settlements and do not prohibit reporting to legal or regulatory bodies.

RNLI’s Efforts for Improvement The RNLI informed The Times about its recent activities to refresh volunteers and staff about behavioural standards. The charity emphasizes its commitment to addressing allegations and concerns seriously, with mechanisms for reporting unacceptable behaviour, including a third-party whistleblowing line.

Moving Forward The RNLI asserts that it has a code of conduct and takes necessary actions where standards fall short. As the investigation progresses, the RNLI faces the challenge of restoring trust and addressing the deep-rooted issues that have led to these severe allegations.

This case highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in charitable organizations, especially those with a long-standing reputation and public trust. The RNLI’s response to these allegations and subsequent actions will be closely watched by its supporters and the broader public.

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