Friday, 26 February 2010

Probe Into Bullying Helpline's Action - But Main Issue Still the Bullying

Fear over public trust in charities that run confidential helplines has led the Charities Commission to launch a probe into the National Bullying Helpline (NBH).

The Commission said it had a duty to "promote public trust and confidence in charities, and is aware of the potential impact on other charities that run confidential help lines". Also that is sought to "ensure the trustees continue to protect this confidential and sensitive information" and have also made an order "preventing the transmission or disclosure of information, including details about the nature and source of the confidential calls it has received" without its permission.

NBH founder Christine Pratt had at the weekend identified in all but name members of Downing Street staff who had called in confidence seeking assistance. All the charities patrons had resigned by the end of Monday over the leakage of information. The Charity Commission had received 160 complaints and the service of NBH was suspended yesterday.

The action had also come after Max Clifford has told Mrs Pratt she needed to provide evidence to back up her claims. The action taken by the charity commission will be a stop of such information becoming public and the protection of those who sought advise.

The one issue though is that there may yet be a case to be answered to within Downing Street, the way the information has been released is not following due process. The denials from Downing Street even starting before the allegations in Sunday's Observer from Andrew Rawnsley's book show that there is over sensitivity there on this issue. The crux of the story is still whether there was bullying at the heart of Government. So while NBH have done themselves and confidential helplines some harm in the public perception from their actions they have highlighted an issue that needs addressing.

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