Refugee charity founder Clare Moseley apologises for threatening to drag volunteer out 'by your f***ing hair’

15 May 2023, 17:06

The founder of refugee charity Care4Calais has apologised after threatening to drag a volunteer “out by your f***ing hair”.
The founder of refugee charity Care4Calais has apologised after threatening to drag a volunteer “out by your f***ing hair”. Picture: Alamy

By Chris Samuel

The founder of refugee charity Care4Calais has apologised after threatening to drag a volunteer “out by your f***ing hair".

Clare Moseley, who resigned from the charity earlier this month, acknowledged having made the threat in early 2020.

Mr Moseley, who set up the charity in 2015, also admitted that she had illegally carried pepper spray in Belgium, which she used "in self defence" on a refugee whom she claimed had attacked her as she was distributing goods.

The criticisms came to light in leaked emails and documents that were obtained by Third Sector, a news outlet that covers the charitable sector, which revealed eight separate complaints made to Care4Calais between 2017 and 2020.

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The charity, which supports refugees staying in UK camps in France and Belgium, has been investigated by the Charity Commission since August 2020 after the watchdog highlighted concerns about the organisation's financial accounts and governance.

Ms Moseley was moved to the role of chairwoman of trustees in last month, after the watchdog insisted that a new CEO be appointed.

She stepped down earlier this month, a move she said was prompted by a difference of opinion among the leadership of the charity about her future role, and wasn't related to the Third Sector article.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais in their warehouse near Calais, France
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais in their warehouse near Calais, France. Picture: Alamy

The charity's new chief executive Steve Smith said Moseley’s decision to quit was a “complete and utter surprise”, and that he had been expecting go on working with her for the “foreseeable future”.

Third Sector reported that the charity received a formal complaint in May 2020 from a volunteer who said that while helping out in Calais, Ms Moseley had threatened her with “physical violence”.

Ms Moseley acknowledged that she had threatened to drag the volunteer out of the charity's warehouse by her hair, and apologised.

"With regard to the volunteer who was threatened, this followed a period of issues with this volunteer," she said. "I acknowledge that the comment, made in the heat of the moment, was entirely inappropriate and I have apologised."

She also admitted to carrying pepper spray while in Belgium, where it is illegal, but said that at the time she was unaware "of the different legal position in Belgium as compared to France”.

Clare Moseley resigned from the charity in early May
Clare Moseley resigned from the charity in early May. Picture: Alamy

“On becoming aware of it, I of course ceased to carry it in Belgium,” she added.

In 2019, a volunteer at the charity alleged there was a “culture of bullying” at Care4Calais, which the organisation has denied.

Ms Moseley said that as the head of a “young and fast-growing operation", she has been "placed in many positions where I had to make difficult and high-pressured decisions”.

“If I made mistakes or upset any of our volunteers, I am sorry for that,” Ms Moseley said. “I have devoted the last seven and a half years to serving the charity as an unpaid volunteer working long hours to do everything in my power to help and advocate for refugees.”

A spokesperson for the charity told Third Sector: “As a new charity, we didn’t always have the right internal systems and processes in place to support this growth and we acknowledge that we got things wrong. We are sorry for those mistakes.”

The charity added the complaints were "small in number" relative to the thousands worked for them as volunteers, but insisted that they "have always been taken seriously and we learn from each one".

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