Hagley human rights campaigner calls on ex- Amnesty International boss to give golden goodbye payoff back (From Stourbridge News)
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Hagley human rights campaigner calls on ex- Amnesty International boss to give golden goodbye payoff back
A HIGH profile Amnesty International supporter from Hagley has written to the charity's former boss asking her to do "the right thing" and give back some or all of the half a million golden goodbye she pocketed from the body which relies on public donations.
Dr David Nicholl, a long-time member of the human rights charity, was shocked to discover how much former secretary general Irene Khan and her deputy Kate Gilmore were treated to in payoffs when they left their lucrative jobs in 2009.
The BBC's Panorama programme, which aired last night (Tuesday December 10), revealed the deals were kept secret at the time through gagging clauses but it has since been discovered that Khan, who commanded a £132,000 a year salary, left her charity job with a £533,000 package - while her deputy walked away with more than £300,000.
Dr Nicholl, a consultant neurologist based at Birmingham's City Hospital, was told by BBC programme-makers of the huge sums involved and that Amnesty International's then chairman of the board Peter Pack had defended them as "the least worst option" saying they were due largely to contractual entitlements.
But a report later documented how Amnesty had taken legal advice at a cost of £75,000 and discovered the large sums paid needn't have been paid.
Dr Nicholl, who ran the London Marathon in aid of Amnesty International, said he was "surprised" to hear such "an awful lot of money" had been dished out to the former bosses and added: "Why did they spend that money and then ignore legal advice?"
He is now calling on Khan to give back some or all of the charity cash she pocketed upon leaving Amnesty.
The campaigning doc told the News: "No-one's actually asked her for the money back, which seems to be the most logical thing to do. There's no legal reason to hand over the money but the right thing is to hand over some of the money. I think a six figure sum would be appropriate."
Programme-makers also revealed how a lavish policeman's ball organised to raise money and the profile of the charity made a loss of nearly three quarters of a million pounds.
Despite the accusations that Amnesty wasted public money, Dr Nicholl said he would not turn his back on the charity which he says "truly is an organisation which shines a light in dark places".
He added: "I'm not going to change my support for Amnesty; I think it has done a tremendous amount of work but I think they need a kick up the backside."
Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, admitted on Panorama that the payoffs made to Khan and Gilmore "too high" and later issued a statement saying the charity fully co-operated with the TV investigation but accused programme-makers of not taking proper account of "all of the evidence" and resulting actions taken by Amnesty.
She said the charity was "very careful and rigorous" about the way it spends public money and she still believes it was "right to invest over £600,000 in awareness raising through the Secret Policeman's Ball".
But she stressed: "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.
"Nothing like these severance payments could happen again."
Dr Irene Khan, who is now chancellor of University of Salford Manchester, has not yet responded to the cash back request issued by Dr Nicholl who says negative publicity surrounding the massive payoffs has done "significant damage to both Amnesty and the broader human rights movement".
He has since launched an e-petition calling for Dr Khan to "do what is right, not what is easy" and "hand back a significant donation to Amnesty". To sign it go to www.gopetition.com/petitions/open-letter-to-irene-khan-former-secretary-general-of-amnesty-international.html
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