Amnesty International responds to Panorama’s accusations

Amnesty International UK’s director, Kate Allen, has responded to Panorama’s accusations that it ‘lost’ 750,000 pounds on their Secret Policeman Ball fundraiser/awareness raiser.

In a statement posted on Amnesty International UK’s website, she says:

“Panorama asked some searching questions of Amnesty International, as well as others. It asked us if we need to shine a light more clearly on ourselves, as well as on those whose human rights abuses we expose. It questioned some of our decision-making and to some extent it questioned our transparency and accountability as an organisation…

I am more than happy to debate the rights and wrongs of Amnesty’s decision making. As I made clear in Panorama I believe we were wrong to make such significant severance payments to our former Secretary General and her deputy. I apologise for that, as I have done before…

[Steve adds: Read my response to Nick Cohen who attacked Amnesty for these payouts]

I do however believe we were right to invest over £600,000 in awareness raising through the Secret Policeman’s Ball. …

Panorama were wrong to imply that we misled the public, and wrong to suggest that the Secret Policeman’s Ball was mismanaged, especially given all the evidence we shared with the programme…

To suggest that the 2012 Secret Policeman’s Ball was conceived as a fundraiser is inaccurate. We shared with Panorama the minutes and supporting documents of key governance meetings. These documents, going back to May 2010 provide clear evidence that the Ball was never conceived as a fundraiser. Its primary purpose, as I repeated on several occasions during my interview, was always to raise awareness of Amnesty International’s work…

the minutes of our Finance Committee Meetings which we shared with Panorama clearly record the fact that when we took the decision in November 2011 to go ahead with the Ball in March 2012, we did so with the clear understanding that the main purpose of the Ball was awareness-raising, and knowing that we would potentially need to invest over £600,000 Panorama are wrong to imply that this decision to invest up to £620,000 in the Ball was made just before the Ball took place. It was not….

The Board took the decision to proceed in the knowledge that it would generate significant awareness. The value proved to be over £3.5 million in equivalent advertising alone, – an amount we would never otherwise have been able to afford….

In short, we have nothing to hide, and have hidden nothing, about the 2012 Secret Policeman’s Ball or any other Ball. We are very grateful indeed for the support of the artists who take part in the Ball and we know what an important job they do for Amnesty not only in the UK, but globally too.

Amnesty is rightly in the spotlight because we set high standards for ourselves and others. Scrutiny of Amnesty International , and indeed all NGOs, is welcome, but we should make sure that the way in which it is done meets similarly high standards….”

Kate Allen, 11th December 2013

Read the full statement from Amnesty International here

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