Ben Summerskill resigns as Chief Executive of gay lobbying charity Stonewall

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Stonewall today announced that Ben Summerskill has handed in his resignation as Chief Executive of Stonewall.

Mr Summerskill joined Stonewall in early 2003.

Stonewall was instrumental in passing 2005′s civil partnership legislation but was slow to publicly support same-sex marriage.

The charity was heavily criticised in September 2010, even by some of its own co-founders, Michael Cashman MEP and Sir Ian McKellen, for appearing not to back the campaign while figures such as deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband had declared their support in articles for months before.

In October 2010, Mr Summerskill said the charity would not be “jumped into” declaring a position on the issue. In 2009, Mr Summerskill told that “lots of” gays and lesbians do not want the right to marry.

On his resignation, Ben Summerskill said: “I’ve had a wonderful 11 years at Stonewall. As a charity, it comprises a constellation of staff and volunteers who, working together, have achieved remarkable things. The fact that Stonewall’s Workplace Programme now engages the employers of ten million people and one in three local authorities in Britain now works with us to tackle homophobic bullying in schools is testament to some of the fantastic teamwork I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with.”

Stonewall also announced today that Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Hunt, will act as Chief Executive until the organisation’s board appoints a replacement. She will take over when Mr Summerskill leaves on 7 February.

Ruth Hunt said: “The Stonewall team is working hard to achieve equality for gay people in education, the media and in the workplace.”

“As a leadership team, our priority will be to maintain the momentum Ben has built up over the last 11 years so that we continue to see significant progress in these areas. I’ve worked side-by-side with Ben over the last eight years, and will be delighted and honoured to step into the role of Acting Chief Executive.”

Stonewall’s 2012 Annual Report, its most recent published accounts, lists the highest paid member of staff to have earned £90,000-99,999, and the second highest to have earned £70,000-79,999.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell commented on the departure of Mr Summerskill: “I wish Ben well in his future endeavours and look forward to working with his successor.

“Despite our sometimes different policies and methods, Stonewall does great work.”