Commonwealth director sacked after investigations into allegations of racist bullying
Mark Collins has been removed as director of the Commonwealth Foundation after claims of bullying
A top Commonwealth official has been sacked after claims he oversaw an environment of racist bullying at the organisation, it emerged today.
Mark Collins, the director of the Commonwealth Foundation, has reportedly been removed after a unanimous decision by the board of the 47-country group.
He was named in at least two internal complaints alleging bullying against non-white staff last year, prompting two separate investigations into his work.
Their findings were presented to a meeting of the board in London last week and both recommended his removal, according to the Independent.
A source at the meeting told the paper: 'The solution was to remove him sooner rather than later.'
The Commonwealth Foundation, funded via grants from its member countries, could now be faced with two employment tribunal cases over Mr Collins' conduct.
His removal comes weeks before the organisation is to be involved in a tribunal brought by ex-employee Anisha Rajapakse.
She claims she was wrongfully dismissed for revealing the allegedly racially-motivated and sexist bullying at the group.
A week after the hearing on March 3, there will be a Commonwealth Week in London which will include a ceremony at Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen.
An independent committee headed by senior Tory Malcolm Rifkind is also set to publish its report on the foundation's future, with suggestions it could recommend it shuts down.
Mr Collins' sacking has not been officially confirmed to avoid further embarrassing the organisation, according to the Independent but the paper says it has seen e-mails confirming the reasons.
The chairman of the board, Simone de Comarmond, wrote to one of the High Commissioners saying: 'The longer the director remains in post ... the more likely he is to continue with his style of management with the potential of further grievances and tribunals being lodged against him.'
The formal complaints about the director claim there was 'subtle racism ... demonstrated by the number of ethnic minority staff who have... had contracts terminated or reduced.
They also allege 'systematic and continuous aggression and harassment' and a 'culture of undermining, victimisation, discrimination and outright hostility'.
Mr Collins has refused to talk about the complaints agaisnt him but has previously dismissed allegations of bullying.
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