The UK media has rightly highlighted the behaviour of some MPs and other political figures who have flouted coronavirus lockdown restrictions because, apparently, they thought they were above the law.
In the Third Sector, we often think that we are above such behaviour, and that the actions of a few charity executives or trustees in cases like Kids’ Company or 4U are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Perhaps we should not be so complacent.
In recent months the Charity Commission has investigated a number of UK charities, and their reports do not make easy reading. Ranging from sheer incompetence to downright fraud, there are cases from up and down the country where Trustees have ignored or disobeyed the law; failed to follow the most basic charity governance procedures; or simply used charitable donations for their own personal gain.
We might think that in the wake of revelations about Oxfam and the British Red Cross, international charities and NGOs would be clamping down on inappropriate behaviour and mistreatment of staff and volunteers.
But according to a report last month in the Sundaily of Malaysia, Reuters staff have identified a culture of sex abuse by UN agencies and humanitarian groups in overseas countries, particularly during the Ebola crisis in the Congo 2018-2020.
Echoing remarks made about UK politicians in the coronavirus crisis, Professor Andrew MacLeod of Hear Their Cries, a charity fighting sex abuse in the aid sector, said: “The UN, the NGOs believe they are above the law.”
In the Charity sector, we rightly condemn politicians, business chiefs and trades union leaders who misuse their power and ignore the law of the land. But perhaps we should be putting our own house in order before we criticise the actions of others.