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Samaritans drops CEO job offer after bullying claims

THE Samaritans charity has withdrawn a chief executive job offer to Jeremy Hughes after allegations of bullying.

The suicide prevention organisation also took action after claims were made of excessive use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) during his ten-year leadership of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Mr Hughes (pictured) was lined up to replace current Samaritans boss Ruth Sutherland from May.

However, the charity said it would not go ahead with the new hire after a whistleblower was reported in The Guardian saying an estimated £750,000 was paid out in recent years to hush up allegations of bullying by senior executives at the Alzheimer’s Society.

Unite union, which represents around 50 staff at Samaritans, called for Mr Hughes not to be hired on Wednesday due to the allegations, which it called ‘deeply troubling’.

A Samaritans spokesman said: ‘In light of events over the past week, the board of trustees has decided that it cannot proceed with the appointment of Jeremy Hughes as CEO, 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.’

An 11-page document was passed to the Charity Commission in February 2018 by a former employee claiming various payments had been made to silence allegations against senior staff. The complaint said the use of NDAs by the Alzheimer’s Society, which had an income of £106.9million in 2019, ‘may also leave the society open to criticism… that it is silencing staff and critics of the organisation, undermining its stated values’.

Helen Earner, of The Charity Commission, admitted the watchdog had failed to look into the claims but ‘should have’ and is doing so now.

The Alzheimer’s Society stated it welcomed the investigation, adding it had ‘zero tolerance for bullying and discrimination’. It refutes the £750,000 figure.