Unicef chair Douglas Alexander quits amid accusations he bullied staff

Unicef’s chair Douglas Alexander has resigned amid allegations that he bullied staff at the charity.

The former MP’s decision to quit comes the day after the charity’s executive director Sacha Deshmukh resigned and the bullying allegations began to emerge against Alexander.

In addition, the board’s vice chair Caroline Underwood has also resigned.

A statement from the charity said: “The Board of Trustees of Unicef UK regrets to announce that Douglas Alexander has decided to resign as Chair with immediate effect. The search for a new chair will start immediately.

“Shatish Dasani will take on the role of interim chair. Shatish joined the board in September 2020 as treasurer, and has many years of experience on the boards of public companies, both in an executive and non-executive capacity.

“Caroline Underwood has also resigned as vice chair of the board. The board would like to acknowledge the many years of dedicated service given to the charity by both Caroline and Douglas.

The charity’s treasurer Shatish Dasani is to be interim chair. Meanwhile, Unicef UK’s deputy executive director for communication, advocacy and programmes Sophie Gallois and chief financial officer Steven Waugh have been named as interim joint executive directors, in addition to their current roles.

Investigation

Following Deshmukh’s resignation this week a review was launched by Unicef UK into the allegations of bullying. This is being led by an external adviser from law firm Bates Wells.

“The review is intended to be swift and thorough,” according to the charity.

Dasani added: “Unicef UK’s purpose is to make the world a better place for children. The Board is looking to ensure that the organisation changes and the implementation of actions arising from the review makes us stronger in fulfilling this purpose.”

Yesterday Unicef had said that the allegations of bullying had “comes as a surprise to the board as no formal complaint has ever been received regarding any of these issues”.

Alexander served in the Labour government's cabinet and is a former MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

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