HIV charity unfairly dismissed CEO, employment tribunal rules

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The head of the UK’s largest HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust was unfairly dismissed from her role, an employment tribunal has ruled.

In 2014 Dr Rosemary Gillespie was appointed to reform the charity, which provides support services and campaigns on various issues related to AIDS and HIV. 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.

In her submission to the tribunal, Dr Gillespie said staff had launched a “nasty, vindictive and sustained campaign of bullying” against her reforms, 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.

The London Central Employment Tribunal this week upheld her complaints, finding against the charity.

The ruling states that the “principal reason for pressing for the claimant’s dismissal was that she had made disclosures” about abuses at the charity.

In a statement to PinkNews, Dr Gillespie said: “I took the job of CEO at Terrence Higgins Trust because I am committed and passionate about promoting good sexual health.

“I was brought in to the charity because I have a successful track record of leading change, and trustees were aware after they conducted an external `Listening Exercise` that was a great deal of change and improvement needed at the charity.

“I am confident that if I had been given time to see these changes through and not been treated in the way I was, I would have achieved this at Terrence Higgins Trust.

“There have been no winners here, and the people that have lost the most are Terrence Higgins Trust’s service users, as well as those who have loyally supported and raised funds for them.”

Her payout is yet to be determined.

A statement from THT says: “It is clear from the tribunal’s findings that there are some lessons for us to learn – we will carefully review these findings and take appropriate action to respond to the concerns that they have raised, including a review of our governance and decision-making processes.

“Our focus is on moving forward and continuing to prevent HIV transmissions and support individuals to live well with HIV. We have entered a positive new chapter, with a new strategy and chief executive in place, and are focused on the future.”

The charity’s current chief executive is Ian Green.