Terrence Higgins Trust exec says trustees ignored ‘potentially criminal behaviour’

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The former Chief Executive of HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust has claimed that a sustained bullying campaign forced her out of her role and trustees ignored “criminal” behaviour.

Dr Rosemary Gillespie was appointed to reform the charity, which provides support services and campaigns on various issues related to AIDS and HIV, in January 2014. She was fired from the charity in July 2015, less than two years later.

The exec has made a number of allegations about her time at the charity, while taking her case to the Central London Employment Tribunal this week
Terrence Higgins Trust exec says trustees ignored ‘potentially criminal behaviour’
Dr Gillespie claims she was the victim of a “nasty, vindictive and sustained campaign of bullying” at the charity, which she says began on her second day, as she attempted reform.

She added that staff “waged a campaign” to remove her, and claimed the trustees ignored potential criminal behaviour and sexual misconduct – after a senior figure tried to grope a male medical director at a fundraiser.

According to the Telegraph, she said: “Trustees should have provided support and worked with me and the executive team, to deliver the outcomes and objectives including those agreed in the listening exercise.

“Instead, trustees used the destructive behaviour of a small number of staff resistant to change and scrutiny of their own performance, as a lever to provide legitimacy to their decision to remove me from my post.

“These staff had waged a campaign to remove me from my post; tried to remove me through the 360 process (the management appraisal); and sought to incite ‘no confidence’ in me amongst colleagues.

“It is clear that when the same solid organisational and financial rigour was applied to trustees and their own behaviour, including after I raised a number of public interest concerns including sexual misconduct and potential criminal behaviour, they refused to tolerate legitimate scrutiny of their own behaviour and removed me from office.”

Of the bullying campaign, she continued: ” “I raised genuine and serious public interest concerns with trustees that I reasonably believed highlighted dangers to the health and safety of myself and colleagues of the culture of bullying and resistance to change.

“Rather than support me and deal with the issues in a proper manner as they should have done, trustees dismissed me. I believe I have been dismissed because I raised these protected disclosures.

“Having been brought in as a change agent to fix the serious problems at THT, including those identified by the listening exercise, starting on my second day I became the subject of a nasty, vindictive and sustained campaign of bullying, harassment and undermining of my leadership, led by two senior managers resistant to the scrutiny and changes the trustees asked me to make.

“The stated aim of his campaign was to achieve my removal from office and undermine senior colleagues.”

Dr Gillespie says she suffered “work-related stress” that impacted her health at the charity – and is seeking compensation for lost wages since she was dismissed.

The case continues.

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