Samaritans reverses appointment of Jeremy Hughes

UK suicide-prevention charity Samaritans has decided not to proceed with the appointment of Alzheimer’s Society chief, Jeremy Hughes, as its new chief executive.

The trustees of the charity issued a statement yesterday, declaring they “cannot proceed” with the appointment of Hughes.

Its decision follows tense discussions after The Guardian reported allegations of the charity spending as much as £750,000 on payouts to staff following complaints of bullying and a 'toxic' workplace culture.

Complaints centred around leadership in particularly, with one whistleblower alleging Hughes had an 'explosive temper' and showed bullying behaviour towards staff.

Hughes said the allegations were “deeply concerning” and that he "champions a positive workplace culture, expecting high performance of all to make a difference for people affected by dementia".

However, Samaritans trustees said in light of the events over the past week it “cannot proceed with the appointment of Jeremy Hughes as chief executive, which was due to start in May”.

“This decision is not in any way based on the allegations themselves, which Samaritans is not in a position to judge,” the charity said in a statement.

The charity's decision follows pressure from both the public and Unite the union to re-consider its appointment under the circumstances.

New CEO needs 'track record in tackling toxic bullying culture'

Unite's regional officer Peter Storey said the revelations about Mr Hughes are “deeply troubling”, especially given the Samaritans "is in the very early stages of recovering from a toxic bullying culture which has damaged the lives of many of its staff".

“Unite believes it is incumbent on the trustees at the Samaritans to rescind the appointment of Mr Hughes as its chief executive and instead appoint someone who has a track record in tackling a toxic bullying culture," Storey added.

The charity said it will be recruiting for a new chief executive "in due course".

Hughes announced he would be stepping down from Alzheimer’s Society at the end of last year after 10 years at the helm. His resignation came shortly after a Twitter page was created by Alzheimer’s Society employees to share ‘significant concerns about the charity’s leadership’, although the charity stressed there was no connection between the two.

Prior to Alzheimer's Society, Hughes was CEO of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and head of external affairs at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

He co-chairs the Dementia Friendly Communities Champions Group with Angela Rippon for the UK Prime Minister. He is also vice-chair of the World Dementia Council and a member of the NHS Assembly. He was awarded a CBE for services to older people in 2015.

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