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Charity boss quits amid claims of inappropriate behaviour

Justin Forsyth has stepped down as deputy executive director of Unicef in New York.

A Unicef executive has quit after allegations were made of inappropriate behaviour while he worked for Save the Children.

Justin Forsyth resigned as deputy executive director of Unicef in New York after his former colleagues complained about his conduct.

Mr Forsyth previously admitted making “some personal mistakes” during his time at Save the Children.

He said he is stepping down “because of the danger of damaging both Unicef and Save the Children” and not because of his past mistakes.

Mr Forsyth was twice subject to investigation at Save the Children after concerns were raised about his conduct in 2011 and again in 2015 involving three women.

The charity has since apologised to the female employees, admitting their claims were not properly dealt with at the time.

In a statement on Thursday he said: “With heavy heart, I am today tendering my resignation to Unicef as Deputy Executive Director.

“I want to make clear I am not resigning from Unicef because of the mistakes I made at Save the Children.

“They were dealt with through a proper process many years ago.

“I apologised unreservedly at the time and face to face. I apologise again.

“There is no doubt in my mind that some of the coverage around me is not just to (rightly) hold me to account, but also to attempt to do serious damage to our cause and the case for aid.

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The Great Get Together launch reception

“I am resigning because of the danger of damaging both Unicef and Save the Children and our wider cause.

“Two organisations I truly love and cherish. I can’t let this happen.”

The disclosures came after Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, admitted that he made “mistakes” and behaved in a way that caused some women “hurt and offence” when he was working at Save the Children.

Mr Cox and Mr Forsyth had previously worked together at 10 Downing Street under Gordon Brown.

Unicef said in a statement: “Executive Director Henrietta Fore today accepted Justin Forsyth’s resignation from his position as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.

“We are grateful to Mr Forsyth for his work over the past two years to advocate for the most vulnerable children and help advance UNICEF’s mission to save children’s lives. This mission is now more important than ever.”

A Save the Children statement said that charity had not made a finding of misconduct against Mr Forsyth.

It said: “The issue of references is incredibly important, as has been highlighted by recent coverage of the appointment of staff in the development sector.

“At the time of Justin Forsyth’s recruitment by Unicef, the standard practice at Save the Children was to provide basic information about employment history, along with any formal findings of misconduct where relevant. There was no finding of misconduct against Mr Forsyth or any formal sanction against him.

“It has become increasingly obvious in the last few weeks that the charity sector needs a more robust system and this will be a pillar of the independent review of culture and HR practices announced by our chief executive, Kevin Watkins, earlier this week.”

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