Background

On 23 August 2019, the NAPAC Board of Trustees learnt through a media enquiry about a serious incident in 2008 involving Peter Saunders, the charity’s Founder and Spokesperson. On 27 August 2019, NAPAC decided to commission an external review by an independent governance expert to fully understand what governance systems existed at NAPAC at the time of the incident in 2008 and how they were applied. The review was also asked to examine NAPAC’s current governance systems and policies in place at the present time, and how they would hold up in the case of a similar incident occurring. That review is being published today.

The Review

This external board effectiveness review looks at the NAPAC governance systems and processes which were in place back in 2008 and now in 2019. It has been undertaken at the request of the Board in accordance with recommended best practice under the UK Small Charities Governance Code. The governance review can be read in full here NAPAC External Governance Review 13 November 2019

Here are the key findings

• The review has found that even by charity governance standards of the time, NAPAC’s governance in 2008 was insufficient. No evidence was found of any systematic governance procedures in place at the time of the incident. Appointments to the Board were based largely on personal acquaintance.

• Accurate record-keeping and archiving should have been in place at the time but was not in 2008. What did exist was not archived or filed in any effective manner.

• Without prejudicing the separate investigation underway by the current Board into the behaviours and actions since the time the story was published in August 2019 of the Founder of NAPAC, the review can only conclude that the degree of governance oversight and indeed governance culture in place at the time in 2008, was insufficient and placed the charity at risk.

• By contrast, since the appointment of new leadership in 2015, the review finds that the systems and processes that have been introduced are exemplary. They are both transparent, comprehensive in their coverage and demonstrably implemented.

• An entirely new Board of Trustees and executive is in place, appointed largely through an objective recruitment process. Board members are actively engaged in and have familarised themselves with their governance responsibilities.

• The organisation in its current form has done everything it can to ensure robust governance now and into the future.

• The regular review and external audit of these systems as suggested by the current Chair is the most reasonable risk mitigation that the organisation can undertake.

NAPAC’s CEO Gabrielle Shaw said: “This governance review highlights serious failings in the organisation’s governance in 2008. It also recognises that the organisation in its current form has done everything to ensure robust governance now and into the future. However, we are never complacent and will continue to carry out a regular review and external audit of these systems.

We realise how important trust is to survivors. Our service provides a vital lifeline to many, so we sincerely hope that any loss of trust will be re-built, as a result of NAPAC’s demonstrable commitment to examining the past and making sure our current processes are open to scrutiny and challenge. We want survivors, those we work in partnership with and those who support us financially to have the utmost confidence in our service.”

Please note that a separate investigation is still underway by the current Board into the behaviours and actions of the Founder of NAPAC since the time the story of the incident was published in August 2019. Peter Saunders is currently suspended and the Board‘s process is still ongoing and is bound by employment law. As soon as this process is concluded, the decision will be published here on our News page.

The Governance Review Author

For information about Peter Buckley, author of NAPAC’s November 2019 external governance review please see his LinkedIn page LinkedIn

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