Following recent reports in the media regarding Kick It Out, staff welfare and governance, Kick It Out Chair Lord Ouseley has released a personal statement.

Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, has been in the spotlight recently for criticisms about the management and treatment of some of its former staff.

As the Chair, I am answerable for the overall performance of the organisation and must face up to any criticism made - and have no problem in accepting my responsibility

For the 25 years of its existence in challenging racism and all other forms of discrimination, Kick It Out has worked alongside and with the football authorities, clubs, players and fans to help make the game a pleasant and discrimination-free sporting experience for everyone. Progress has been made but there is still work to be done.

As a small charity, we have relied on our staff and volunteers to do the thankless tasks and I am most appreciative of all the work they have all done over the years, both current and former with equal gratitude. I have no criticism to make of any staff who wish to be critical and am proud that whenever any matter has been raised with me as a concern to deal with, I have done so.

Receiving criticism has been something that I have dealt with throughout my life and respect all those who rightfully do so when justified and without bias. Kick It Out has made its statement in response to the recent criticisms and will be conducting an independent inquiry into the criticisms being made of its performance in staff management and governance management. Even though I know that I have not been involved in the interface of staff matters but am in governance oversight, I fully accept my role as leader and accept any failing which may have occurred.

However, that does not mean that I am going to accept unreasonable and unjustified media criticism. During the 25 years of my tenure as an unpaid, voluntary and dedicated servant of Kick It Out, as well as other charities to which I have given my all, I have never, in my view, and would defy anyone to bring forward evidence to the contrary, abused, vilified, harassed or bullied anyone. I do not believe that staff at Kick It Out have engaged in such conduct and I certainly would not condone such conduct.

Staff, who have left the organisation during the past three years have done so either to go on to better paid jobs, less stressful occupation, or to establish their own consultancy business or indeed, as is the case in two former staff members, who were already on final warnings for serious misconduct and facing potential disciplinary proceedings, left the organisation voluntarily to avoid the potential consequences. I would rather they had all still been with us but such is life and reality in an organisation trying to punch above its weight.

With regard to the assertion that the allegation that Kick it Out did not provide appropriate support to a staff member who claimed sexual abuse involving someone who has no connection with Kick It Out, I would leave that to the independent investigation to pronounce on. But, I know that the Kick It Out senior staff gave their best endeavours and dedication to the affected staff member. Clearly, from my perspective, having been told that the individual did not want to involve the police, which I emphasised should have happened immediately, and wanted the matter resolved in a private manner, I assumed the task of preserving and safeguarding that privacy.

I hold my hands up as guilty if I should have told my Trustees and the Charity Commissioners.

Finally, I am proud to be in the struggle to tackle racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination. I am not leaving Kick It Out because of any of the above. I am leaving the organisation, along with all my other activities, because after 56 years of continuous public service, ageing and declining health and energy levels, I feel that I need to try to enjoy the final phase of my life. That does not mean that I shall shy away now from calling for responsible leadership from all parts of the football fraternity to take all necessary action to rid the game of the scourge of racism and discrimination. They are awake to the call and they must act.

Lord Herman Ouseley

Kick It Out Chair