16 September 2008
In our last newsletter we reported on a complaint registered by one of our members about comments attributed to the chief executive of the mental health charity Sane in a newspaper article.
Despite contacting the charity twice regarding Marjorie Wallace’s comments to the Mail on Sunday, our member is still awaiting a response.
The article focused on a £3bn increase in disability benefits and claimed much of this additional money was paid to drug addicts and alcoholics. Ms Wallace said: “This huge rise in the number of claimants for psychosis could be linked to the Government's relaxation of cannabis laws.
“But all the evidence suggests psychosis sufferers have remained - relatively stable. I suppose that calls into question the validity of the claimant.”
Taking the complaint to the Charity Commission, our member has now been told the watchdog’s remit prevents it from carrying out a further investigation.
Chris Dooley, of the Commission, wrote back explaining the decision not to investigate. “The reasons for this are, it is at the discretion of the charity's trustees in the way they run their charity and deal with complaints. We cannot become involved in matters of administration of charity.”
Yet there are clearly issues for Sane itself to address. The original complaint still stands and the lack of response is unacceptable.
As Sane’s mission is to raise awareness and respect for people with mental illness and their families and secure better services, we agree that the original comments attributed to Ms Wallace are cause for concern.
We maintain that the comments do impact on the reputation of the charity and are at odds with the organisation’s aims.