Trans children's charity boss leaves under a cloud.
Susie Green suddenly stood down last week as chief executive of the embattled group after six years, with no interim boss in place and the move shrouded in secrecy.
A whistleblower has revealed disarray and anger within the charity’s Leeds and London offices.
The boss faced a staff backlash over her “incapable” leadership, culminating in a “nail in the coffin” report that trustees received last week.
The internal audit, launched earlier this year by the Social Justice Collective (SJC), a diversity group, is understood to be highly critical of Ms Green’s handling of complaints of racism, safeguarding, the vetting of trustees and her “shoving her head in the sand”.
The charity, the UK’s largest for trans children, has received taxpayer funding and runs training in the NHS, schools and police forces, as well as online forums for gender-distressed children.
While campaigners have long raised concerns about the group’s “unfettered access to children” and support of gender-affirming healthcare, those inside it have never spoken out until now.
Shocked staff were hauled into an “emergency meeting” on Friday with Dr Belinda Bell, the chair of trustees, and told Ms Green was gone and her replacement “needs strong EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) experience, ideally lived experience”, with some staff believing this means being transgender.
The group has endured an exodus of staff, with “upset” among some junior transgender staff who alleged they were “treated like children” by Ms Green and their complaints “fell on deaf ears”.
It is understood that some staff felt it insufficient that Ms Green, a former IT manager, was leading a trans charity but not transgender herself. They felt her only link was her child, Jackie Green, who had a gender reassignment operation at the age of 16.
On Friday, the Charity Commission escalated its probe into Mermaids by launching its highest level of statutory investigation “due to newly identified issues about the charity’s governance and management”.
On Friday night, MPs demanded that “lessons be learned”.
The regulator’s inquiries into safeguarding concerns began in September when a Telegraph investigation found it was agreeing to send potentially dangerous chest-binding devices to 14-year-olds against their parents’ wishes.
The fiasco deepened when Dr Jacob Breslow was forced to stand down as a Mermaids trustee in October after it emerged he spoke at the B4U-ACT conference in 2011, a group which promotes support for paedophiles.
The whistleblower told The Telegraph: “A lot of new board members came in who were Susie’s friends, no one really knew they were there, which was an added shock when the whole Jacob stuff happened.
“We had a staff call then, [Mermaids said] ‘staff can drop in and say what they’re feeling’. Susie wasn’t on that call and there were a lot of staff asking for accountability and who dropped the ball but no one really got answers for it.
“People were very frustrated then around Susie’s lack of being on the ball with staff and talking to staff about what happened, and shoving her head in the sand without giving answers to anyone.
“More recently there’s been scandal after scandal after scandal at Mermaids, and a lot of them are like ‘well why hasn’t Mermaids done its due diligence of Jacob or their background checks on staff’. There’s clearly been some failure.”
Susie and Jackie Green - Jonathan Gawthorpe, SWNS.com© Provided by The Telegraph
Mermaids has also launched the first legal challenge of its kind seeking to strip LGB Alliance, a same-sex group critical of gender ideology, of its charitable status. This left some staff “confused as to why Mermaids was taking it on,” the source said.
Of Mermaids’s ten trustees, half were appointed last summer alone. It is understood that eight out of 44 staff have left in the past two months, half of them transgender and many of them junior managers or officers.
An insider also claimed three out of around five people of colour in the charity have left this year.
The whistleblower claimed: “One of the big issues with Susie was she is incapable of being self-reflective, so when anyone took any complaints to her it would fall on deaf ears because she was unwilling to have anything at fault, even when it was ways of suggesting how handling things could be improved, it would be like you’re attacking her and not attacking Mermaids.
“A lot of junior staff, especially trans ones, were the ones left on the sidelines and almost treated like we were children. Some people had put in complaints. More junior staff, the younger trans people who you’d hope an organisation for trans young people would support, are the ones most dissatisfied at how it’s being run. They were getting treated the worst.”
On Friday night, a Mermaids spokesman confirmed: “Earlier this year Mermaids decided to carry out a frank and honest appraisal of our internal culture and how we measure up in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion.
“As part of this process, we commissioned an independent external report which highlighted a number of significant challenges for us.
“We know we must do better and we are absolutely committed to doing so for our staff and our service users. We will be implementing the report’s recommendations as a priority.”
Earlier this year, The Telegraph also uncovered evidence that Mermaids’ online help centre was offering advice to users who present themselves as young as 13 that controversial hormone-blocking drugs are safe and “totally reversible”.
In one month alone, there were discussions in the charity’s moderated forum for 12 to 15-year-olds on how to raise money to start taking drugs and the best way to take testosterone. Discussions of breast binders on Mermaids’ Youth Forum have dated back to 2019.
The whistleblower claimed that Mermaids’ forums are “outdated” with 1990s-style forums and “the way it goes about safeguarding, the way it interacts with young people, really needs to be modernised”.
The Charity Commission said it has not received “necessary reassurance or [been] satisfied” that there has not been “serious systemic failing in the charity's governance and management”. A report will be produced in due course.
On Friday night, Miriam Cates, a Tory MP and member of the Commons education committee, told The Telegraph:
“It is clear that Mermaids has been responsible for multiple safeguarding breaches - including encouraging children to harm their own bodies - which is why I called in Parliament for a criminal inquiry.
“It is important to let the Commission get on with the investigation, but at the same time, we should urgently consider how Mermaids has for so long been allowed unfettered access to vulnerable children, been funded by taxpayer cash and promoted by celebrities despite multiple warnings from whistleblowers. We must learn lessons from this failure of safeguarding.”
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, a Tory peer, said: “The Charity Commission reports to the House of Commons so the legless Mermaids have no escape. They cannot wriggle out now.”
Mermaids’ interim chief executive job advert, on an £80,0000 salary, says Mermaids is “looking for someone who is experienced to lead a culture change piece, is strong on EDI” and an expert in “people management”. Its trustee brief says trustees have “collective and joint responsibilities”.
Mermaids was run by volunteers until 2016 when Ms Green, who took her child to Thailand for a gender reassignment operation, became its first staff member. It has previously been supported by Emma Watson, the actor, and the Duke of Sussex and given National Lottery funding.
John Bellamy responds.
I appreciate I only know what is written above, but it ANGERS ME DEEPLY that here is a charity set up to protect and nurture and all it does is give ammunition to the bigots and fear based people that all we are after is their children and here - this foolish irresponsible women is doing, is putting children at risk and pissing everyone off who is there to help.
It angers me when people ' like this' - take on important roles and completely destroy the very fabric of why they were employed - what their position is for and why they so abandon the core principles of what the charity is all about.
This is not the first time this has happened and the Autistic Society was sued some years ago for completely betraying the very core principles of their creation, and many others have been found to be - not as good as conceived - and when you are fighting an uphill battle anyway - as Trans Rights is a very emotive subject - YOU DO NOT HAND AMMUNITION TO THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST YOU -
You do your very best, you nurture and support and you do what you were set up to do - what you DO NOT DO is betray the very people and helpers who are there to help and guide, but - I am going to say it - some women with attitude think they can do no wrong and do not listen and that kind of warped sense of self importance and arrogance creates disharmony in the workplace, and especially with volunteers, and hence this women's demise has been so dramatic.
She was on her own ego trip and not listening to anyone....
I have to say it is somewhat typical of anything aimed at the LGBTQ ' community ' and usually by people from within that community of LGBTQ. The gay centre - years ago - at Farrington failed because too many LGBTQ just abused the whole thing and all for themselves and not the betterment of the centre - and management was an absolute joke as these people were so busy cruising - or so busy catering to their own needs, that the council pulled the plug and closed it down and the ONLY people responsible, was management and the many helpers / staff who worked / volunteered - and each and every one took and took and did not think about the bigger picture and only about themselves, and the whole house of cards came crashing down.
The only ones to blame, the very people who ran the venue.
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