UK watchdog slams Save the Children over misconduct claims

Britain’s charity watchdog has accused Save the Children U.K. of bungling its response to sexual harassment allegations against senior staff

LONDON -- Britain’s charity watchdog has accused Save the Children U.K. of bungling its response to sexual harassment allegations against senior staff, saying the organization let down both the women who complained and the public.

The Charity Commission said Thursday that there were “serious weaknesses” in the way Save the Children handled the claims of harassment and inappropriate behavior.

Several women complained in 2012 and 2015 of misconduct by then-Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth and another senior staff member, Brendan Cox.

The Charity Commission said the organization was evasive and unduly defensive in its response and made misleading public statements.

Save the Children also failed to inform UNICEF about the allegations against Forsyth before he took a job at the U.N. agency. He resigned from UNICEF in 2018 after the earlier allegations became public.

"Save the Children U.K. let complainants and the public down. It must work hard now to rebuild its reputation,” said the watchdog’s chief executive, Helen Stephenson.

Save the Children said it "accepted in full" the findings, and apologized to the women affected.