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Charity says OSCR has exonerated it from wrongdoing over malicious allegations

 

Reports were designed to damage reputations claims charity

A charity says it has been exonerated by OSCR over what it called “malicious allegations".

Newspaper reports in October 2021 alleged that Wellbeing Scotland’s chief executive Janine Rennie had lied about reporting a paedophile ring to Police Scotland, despite the fact that Rennie had documentary proof that she had done just that.

According to the charity, which was formerly known as Open Secret, Scotland's charity regulator OSCR has now contacted the organisation’s solicitor and board member, Patrick McGuire and cleared it.

A statement given to Mr McGuire reads: “OSCR has concluded its investigation, during which we had the cooperation of the charity trustees. We did not find that there was misconduct or failure by the charity trustees of Wellbeing Scotland to meet their trustee duties, and we have not taken any formal action or published a statutory report.  We have made some recommendations to the charity trustees and the charity is engaging with us around the implementation of these.”

Wellbeing Scotland’s spokesman Jack Irvine said: “We are delighted that OSCR has totally exonerated Wellbeing Scotland. However, we are still mystified as to why OSCR should have got involved when it was clear the charity was the subject of complaints grounded in malice. We are also distressed, as are our stakeholders, that this totally unnecessary investigation was dragged out over such a long period. Covid is no excuse.

“There can now be no confusion either in the media or in Police Scotland as to whether Janine Rennie reported to Police Scotland, details of rings of paedophile abusers. She did, and that is now acknowledged. Sadly, there is still no clarity on who made wild allegations that Wellbeing Scotland had failed to report knowledge of these paedophile rings and it would be a useful exercise to determine who wasted so much time and resources for Wellbeing Scotland, Police Scotland and OSCR.”

Mr McGuire, of Thompsons Solicitors, added: “The source of the articles was clearly motivated to cause damage to the reputation and finances of the charity.

“The source was motivated by malice. That much is obvious and self-evident. The length of the OSCR investigation implied a decree of seriousness or guilt. However the delays were partly down to Covid, partly due to the large volume of information Wellbeing Scotland voluntarily provided and partly to down to fault on the part of OSCR. OSCR has upheld a complaint about the length of time that the investigation took.

“Janine Rennie did provide Police Scotland with details of rings of multiple abusers. Janine Rennie, other staff and a board member met with Police Scotland where they provided information on alleged abusers and the clients who reported them. The number of potential abuse rings were more than one. Wellbeing Scotland provided Police Scotland with a redacted database showing the number of clients who had reported abuse by multiple abusers.

"Janine Rennie provided the newspaper with names of officers within Police Scotland with whom she corresponded and provided information about this matter.  I can only presume no effort was made to contact the named officers. I have seen confidential correspondence regarding this matter where the meetings and communications did take place.”

Mr Irvine added: “This has been a very distressing time for Janine Rennie who works tirelessly on behalf of victims of child abuse. To make matters worse she was the victim of a stalker because of her work with the charity and an individual is now awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty at Alloa Sheriff Court.”

An OSCR spokesperson said: "OSCR’s inquiry related to the overall governance of the charity, and did not relate to the specific allegations in the October 2021 media reports. As our statement says, our inquiry found that there was no misconduct or failure by the charity trustees of Wellbeing Scotland to meet their trustee duties. However, we have made some recommendations to the charity trustees and we continue to work with the charity to ensure that these are addressed."

 

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