People's Vote chief stands down amid allegations of 'inappropriate behaviour'

9 November 2019, 21:32 | Updated: 9 November 2019, 21:37

The Chief Executive of Open Britain has stepped down while an investigation into harassment takes place
The Chief Executive of Open Britain has stepped down while an investigation into harassment takes place. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The People's Vote chief has stepped down pending an investigation into allegations of harassment towards female staff members, it is understood.

Patrick Heneghan, who is acting Chief Executive of Open Britain, has been accused of acting inappropriately towards three women who work for the campaign for a second referendum.

Mr Heneghan denied any wrongdoing in a statement, claiming the accusations were "politically-motivated" and announcing he would take two weeks of leave while an investigation takes place.

The PA news agency has obtained an email from Anne Weyman, a member of the Open Britain board, which reads: "I met yesterday with a number of female staff members of Open Britain. I explained that I was there to listen to their views.

"Their main concern was that they did not feel safe working in the office while Patrick Heneghan was there. They did not consider that alternative reporting arrangements would work with him being in the office as interim CEO."

Open Britain is the largest of five organisations that make up the People's Vote campaign
Open Britain is the largest of five organisations that make up the People's Vote campaign. Picture: PA Images

It continued: "At the outset of the investigation into the allegations against Patrick, we took the decision that the investigation could be undertaken with him remaining in post.

"Roland (Rudd) has spoken to Patrick, who has, with a heavy heart, come to the same conclusion.

"He also believes that the best thing, now, is for him to take a leave of absence for the period of the investigation, and is determined to clear his name."

Stuart Hand, who was a director of campaigns at Open Britain, has been appointed as his replacement.

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