Former Charity Commission chair tells MPs ‘I assumed I had been exonerated’

MPs have been handed a written apology by ex-Charity Commission chair Martin Thomas, who resigned just days before taking up the post after it emerged he had been the subject of misconduct claims at a charity he had chaired.

The appointment of government’s preferred candidate Thomas had been backed by members of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee late last year.

But shortly afterwards he resigned after it emerged that he was the subject of an investigation around his conduct while chairing the board at Women for Women International UK.

Allegations included sending a picture of himself in a Victoria’s Secret store to a female colleague. He was also being investigated for alleged bullying related to a different member of staff. Thomas resigned from the charity in May.

In a letter sent to culture, media and sport committee chair Julian Knight MP, Thomas said that he was “terribly sorry that you and your committee took the time to scrutinise me, only for me to resign a week later”.

He added that he did not report the allegation made against him as “I assumed I had been exonerated” because he had not heard from the charity “in the months following its investigation of the allegation”.

“I now understand that this was not entirely correct, and with hindsight I should have told the interview panel about the allegation and my assumption that it had been dealt with to the satisfaction of those involved,” he states in his letter.

He also offers some more clarity around the details of his departure.

“I found out my assumption was wrong on 15 December,” he explains.

“I spoke to DCMS on 17 December. They told me they viewed my failure to disclose that I did not know the outcome of the investigation, and my reliance on an assumption (that if I had not been exonerated, I would have been told) as an error of judgement on a technical omission.

“They said they did not think there was any intention to mislead. I then resigned by mutual consent.”

He added: “I would like to underline my commitment to the charity sector. Its role in our country is vital.

"I am sad not to taking up the role at the Charity Commission, and will instead continue to work within charities themselves, as I have done for 30 years.”

The DCMS has pledged to improve its vetting practices following failures to recruit Thomas.

It emerged that recruiters did not contact Women for Women International or the Charity Commission, despite the charity highlighting its concerns about Thomas to the regulator last year.

Officials appearing before the DCMS committee earlier this month said that they will approach the regulator for information about shortlisted candidates in future.

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