Can the integrity of the media be trusted? Is it a given?
A November 2022 survey reported that, in the UK, only 37% of people trust the media. Only the people of Japan and South Korea trust their media less.
At the Race 4 Truth, our experience is that the media have little interest in reporting truth. And, if that is the case, why should people trust what they do report?
Over recent years we have attempted to reach out to hundreds of journalists, reporters, editors, and news outlets with regard the story of Cancer Research UK’s theft of the Race for Life and their rewriting of its history and removing of the event’s actual creator, Jim Cowan, from that history.
We also know that Jim has also tried to raise interest among the media but has had no interest whatsoever, bar three interviews with Sonia Poulton (*links below).
Why is this? Isn’t the story newsworthy? It is story of a major charity stealing an event from its creator and then deleting him from its history. It is a story of fraud, of hypocrisy, of executives looking the other way, of dishonesty, of misinformation, and more.
And yet, the UK’s media do not believe the tale to be even worthy of investigating, let alone reporting. The UK’s media do not want to ask the question of what dishonesty on this level means for other claims, other tales, told by Cancer Research UK?
Why not? We don’t know. We do wonder whether the not insignificant advertising revenue brought into the various media outlets trump the desire to report the truth? But, how are we supposed to trust the integrity of a media willing to turn such a blind eye?
Consider the Daily Mail. Aware of the history and not interested in reporting it, nor even investigating it. Instead, they have chosen to sponsor the Race for Life. In full knowledge of the event’s history and Cancer Research UK’s rewriting of history, they have chosen that as the side they wish to align their brand with. What other stories are they ignoring? What other injustices go unreported?
Then, there is the Southern Daily Echo. In January 2005 they incorrectly stated that Louise Holland was the founder of the Race for Life. Of course, they may have reported this in innocence, inadvertently taking Holland or Cancer Research UK at their word.
However, when Jim Cowan (the Race for Life’s real founder) was made aware of the report in March this year, he contacted the Daily Echo’s editor, Ben Fishwick, seeking the article either be amended or removed. Unfortunately for Jim, for the Daily Echo’s version of reporting, the truth mattered not and the unamended article remains online for all to read (as of 11th May 2023).
It is worth also noting that the Daily Echo clearly do not want to ask whether, if the false claim was Louise Thomas’s (Holland’s married name), it had any impact on her securing a number of senior roles at a range of other charities in the intervening years? (as listed on LinkedIn here and here). Nor asking how she could have been the Race for Life’s founder when she didn’t even join Cancer Research UK until four months after the event was launched and over a year after it had first been proposed by Jim Cowan (as per her own LinkedIn profile)? Even the most rudimentary investigation would expose the 2005 story for the fiction it was, and is.
If we cannot trust the likes of the Daily Mail and the Daily Echo to display integrity, to care about honesty on this matter, what else that they report can be trusted, can be believed?
And, what of the rest of the nation’s media simply turning a blind eye to an historic injustice? Ignoring a tale that involves a major charity displaying or supporting dishonesty, hypocrisy, fraud, and more? Can we trust them, any of them?
The picture it paints is not one of a sector to be trusted to report facts, interested in investigating historical wrongdoing, or which cares about supporting truth over fiction.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK and the UK’s media are lagging behind.
Cancer Research UK are not shy when it comes to posting lots of stories, claims and other reports across their numerous social media profiles. But, why isn’t anyone questioning how much of what they say is true? After all, an organisation which is quite happy to consistently lie about one thing is highly unlikely to be honest with you about everything else.
And this shouldn’t be news to anyone. They have been lying to you for over a quarter of a century, both in their current format and in their previous incarnation as the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.
Cancer Research UK, its CEO Michelle Mitchell, and many others within the organisation (including its Trustees), are fully aware of that lie. Thy are fully aware that at least one key part of the charity’s history is, literally, made up. And that must cast doubt on any other claims they make, tales they tell. For where there is one big lie, there are likely to be others.
Cancer Research UK, and its predecessor the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, have rewritten the history of the Race For Life to exclude Jim Cowan, the person who actually created it, and then spent the next 27 years spreading different fictional versions (i.e. lies).
We must therefore pose the question; how can anyone know for sure that they haven’t rewritten other parts of their story, made up other tales they tell?
Mitchell might claim that she knows nothing of this rewriting of history, although as CEO she should avail herself of the facts. And, of course, she has had that opportunity but declined it.
In the past the very weak defence was that they had no documentation from the event’s creation.
But that doesn’t hold water. Firstly because of the numerous fictional versions they have relayed over the years. On what were they based if CRUK has no documentation on which to base them? Secondly, because we have offered (on more than one occasion) to sit down and share documents and witness contacts with Mitchell but she was not interested. Evidence that clearly proves Jim Cowan created the Race For Life and that Cancer Research UK have peddled nothing more than a series of lies over the intervening years.
In short, they know they are not telling the truth but prefer not to correct the lies; they prefer fiction to truth.
How can they then talk about Cancer Research UK’s history when, clearly, they don’t even care whether parts of it are even accurate? Worse, they know it is a lie but look the other way, pretend not to know. And if one part of the story is told while known to be false, what else among their posts, press releases, claims, and other tales require (politely) closer examination?
Cancer Research UK and its CEO Michelle Mitchell have declined the opportunity to see documentation and to speak to witnesses who can confirm the correct story of the creation of the Race for Life.
They prefer a heads in the sand approach, an ignore any facts we don’t like mentality.
Surely, therefore, as well as the truth of anything CRUK tell us, another big question that has implications for the organisation’s future, is that of whether it can be trusted?
With a track record of rewriting history, lies, hypocrisy, turning a blind eye to fraud, low integrity, poor ethics, and absent morals (all evidenced), we certainly would not trust them. But they could very quickly make a start on repairing the damage by recognising Jim Cowan, putting the record straight on their employee fraud, and acknowledging the many wrongs done in the last quarter of a century.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
NOTE: We should add that we also know that the Race for Life’s creator, Jim Cowan, has offered to sit down with Mitchell, her predecessor (Harpal Kumar) and CRUK’s Chairman (Leszek Borysiewicz) to share documents, correspondence and witness contacts on more than one occasion. All three declined those offers too. It appears that accuracy, honesty, and truth; and with them trust, are not high up Cancer Research UK’s list of priorities.
It has been said that the truth is consistent. It has no need to keep changing its story because it has no need to. It is the truth.
By contrast, lies often change over time. Details are difficult to recall when they are made up and variations to a story, and details therein, expose it for the fiction it is.
In the Race for Truth, it is Jim Cowan versus Cancer Research UK. Who do you believe is speaking the truth about the creation of the Race for Life?
Created the Race for Life in 1993 following his own father’s cancer diagnosis.
Launched the Race for Life in 1994 in Battersea Park in London.
Had the Race for Life stolen by Cancer Research UK employee Jill MacRae (nee Baker) in the winter of 1994/95.
His story has never wavered. His facts have never changed. His position is supported by documentary evidence and by witnesses.
Cancer Research UK.
In 1993, the Event Manager at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (CRUK’s former name), Jill Macrae (nee Baker), wrote to Jim saying she was looking forward to meeting him to discuss his proposal.
In 1994, Jill MacRae confirmed in writing on Imperial Cancer Research Fund letterhead about the Race for Life; “Mr Cowan came to us with the original idea.”
In at Athletics Weekly article in 2000, Cancer Research UK’s Louise Holland claimed of the Race for Life, “the concept came from a series of run and walk events in the USA.”
In the same 2000 issue of Athletics Weekly an unnamed CRUK spokesperson claimed the Race for Life, “originated from Walk for a Cure.”
In the Glasgow Herald in September 2000 an unnamed CRUK spokesperson changed the story again to claim it; “originated from Race for the Cure.”
An OnRec article in March 2005 reported that Louise Holland had been awarded Motivator of the Year. She now claimed to have, “led and taken forward the Race for Life since it started in 1984.” (Note: It didn’t actually launch until 1994).
In 2008, Nottingham Trent University graduate Louise Holland was awarded with that university’s Alumnus of the Year Award although, strangely, she was now claiming to have taken over the running of the event in 1995.
In November 2013 Jill MacRae contacted Jim Cowan via letter and social media claiming she had never heard of him and that she was the originator of the Race for Life. Later that month she contacted him again repeating her (false) claim.
Also in November 2013 MacRae edited the Race for Life page on Wikipedia claiming the event was created by her and Jane Arnell (a colleague at Imperial Cancer Research Fund at the time).
In December 2013 Jim Cowan responded robustly to MacRae’s correspondence. He never heard from her again and her false claim was removed from her social media profiles.
Also in December 2013, Jim Cowan provided evidence to Wikipedia that he had created the Race for Life. The page was amended accordingly with a link to the evidence (a 1994 letter from Jill MacRae).
In 2016 an undated interview with Jill MacRae was uncovered in Informed Edinburgh. When asked, “can you tell us a random fact about yourself?” her reply was, “I created the Race for Life and organised the very first event way back in 1993.” (Note: It was not launched until 1994. You would expect the person who created the event to know that).
In the same interview with Informed Edinburgh, MacRae was asked, “describe yourself in three words,” to which she replied, “creative, inquisitive, determined.” She has certainly demonstrated her creativity with her false Race for Life claims.
In 2017, Cancer Research UK officially stopped citing any origin or creator for the Race for Life, instead adopted a stance of, “not publicly crediting anyone.” (Note: “publicly”).
Despite this, in 2018, CRUK National Events Manager, Annette Quarry, cited yet another origin for the Race for Life, this time “the original pilot was from the American Cancer Society.”
In 2019, CRUK overruled Quarry stating (again) they “do not credit anyone.”
In 2020, following an ‘internal inquiry’ CRUK’s Simon Ledsham claimed to have, “exhausted all reasonable lines of enquiry” and to have been, “unable to find any solid evidence which supports Jim Cowan’s claim to be the sole originator of Race for Life.” An inquiry which actually ignored solid evidence and did not talk to witnesses. An inquiry which CRUK refuse to open to public scrutiny. We can only wonder as to why that might be?
Since 1993 has stuck to a single story, one supported by documents, by witnesses, by facts.
Cancer Research UK.
Ever changing stories, ignoring clearly false claims by former and current employees, hiding behind an ‘acknowledge no one’ line, providing no evidence, no witnesses, and refusing to allow public examination of their so-called inquiry.
In the Race for Truth, it is Jim Cowan versus Cancer Research UK. We know who we believe. What about you?
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
In May we reported how Race for Life creator Jim Cowan had written to Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell, asking her to make the organisation’s in-house inquiry into the origins of the Race for Life public.
Why? Because it was a flawed, some may say dishonest, inquiry with no purpose other than to avoid facing up to facts. To continue the cover up of the truth.
The ‘inquiry’ avoided evidence and ducked talking to witnesses before reaching the (predictable) conclusion that, “the origins of the Race for Life are not clear.”
As regular visitors to the Race 4 Truth will know, the evidence clearly shows the opposite, it clearly shows that the creator of the Race for Life was Jim Cowan. And with the testimony of witnesses who were involved at the time, that evidence only becomes stronger.
We support Jim Cowan in asking that the ‘inquiry’ be made public. We ask Michelle Mitchell a very simple question; if the inquiry was thorough and conducted with integrity, what have you got to hide? What is it you fear from public scrutiny?
Unfortunately (predictably) since Jim’s letter and our article and social media posts reporting it, the silence has been deafening. No reply, no comment, and certainly no signs that Mitchell will do the decent thing and open the ‘inquiry’ to the public eye. It is clear, as we know, that there is something amiss here, something less than honest about the so-called inquiry.
Now, following over two months of silence, Jim Cowan has written three new open letters (*transcript below). This time he has written to the bosses of the Race for Life’s corporate partners Tesco, Scottish Power and Global (who own Heart).
In his letters he asks them a simple question:
“I am asking you to consider what asking Cancer Research UK to open their inquiry to public scrutiny would say about your corporate and brand values? And, I would ask you to consider what not doing so would infer about those same values?”
He goes on:
“You could play a part in righting this wrong of over a quarter of a century. Or you could turn a blind eye and let it continue. There are many reasons to open this inquiry to public scrutiny, none of them bad. I can only think of one reason not to, and that is to keep the truth buried. I hope I can put faith in your values to do the right thing.”
The responses from Ken Murphy (Tesco), Keith Anderson (Scottish Power) and Ashley Tabor-King (Global) will be telling. Will they lean on Mitchell, Cancer Research UK, and Race for Life to do the right thing? Or will they open up questions about the morals, ethics and values of their own brands by staying silent?
To date, the silence from Cancer Research UK has been deafening. Will the corporate supporters of the Race for Life do the right thing or allow the silence to continue?
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
*The full transcript of Jim Cowan’s open letter to the bosses of Tesco, Scottish Power and Heart:
On 17th May I emailed you with regard an open letter I had sent to Michelle Mitchell, the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, on 10th May. A copy of that letter was attached to my email.
The letter concerned Cancer Research UK’s claim that they had held an inquiry into the origins of the Race for Life, an inquiry which concluded, “the origins of the Race for Life are not clear.”
I had written to Ms Mitchell in the hope that she would open the findings of this inquiry to public scrutiny. As the person who created the Race for Life, and I can provide evidence to support this fact. I can also provide witnesses including one who was employed by Imperial Cancer Research Fund (Cancer Research UK’s predecessor) at the time. Despite being aware of this, the inquiry staged by Cancer Research UK did not speak to me or the witnesses.
There is a history of over 25 years of Cancer Research UK and, before them, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, burying the truth. Indeed, as I discovered years later, it was an Imperial Cancer Research Fund employee who originally stole the idea from me and went on to fraudulently claim it as her own. Cancer Research UK have never addressed this matter.
The truth does not waver, it does not change its story. It has no need to, it is the truth.
Since creating the Race for Life in 1993 and launching it in 1994 my story has not wavered. It has had no need to; it is the truth.
Conversely, Cancer Research UK have peddled a number of different stories. Possibly, at the time, they believed each one to be true. And yet, their story has kept changing, citing a number of different origins until now, without even considering all of the available evidence, they claim the event’s origins are not clear.
I suggest to you that they know this not to be true, that they are deliberately erasing me from the history of the event. What their reason may be, I do not know. Possibly to avoid having to admit they have had it wrong for so many years? Possibly to cover up their employees lies? The reason is not important, what is important is that they are doing it.
In the past they have stated that they have no documents from the creation of the event. I do have documents. I also have witnesses. What kind of inquiry does not seek to speak to key witnesses before coming to a conclusion? Might I suggest, the kind of inquiry which has no interest in the truth?
I therefore write to you to ask you to use your influence with Cancer Research UK, as one of the partners to the Race for Life, to ask that they open up their so-called inquiry to public scrutiny, to ultimately recognise me as the person who created the Race for Life.
I am asking you to consider what asking Cancer Research UK to open their inquiry to public scrutiny would say about your corporate and brand values? And, I would ask you to consider what not doing so would infer about those same values?
You could play a part in righting this wrong of over a quarter of a century. Or you could turn a blind eye and let it continue.
There are many reasons to open this inquiry to public scrutiny, none of them bad. I can only think of one reason not to, and that is to keep the truth buried.
I hope I can put faith in your values to do the right thing.
For anyone who has been following the Race 4 Truth, it will not come as news that Cancer Research UK has buried its head in the sand when it comes to acknowledging the truth about the origins of the Race for Life.
Despite all of the evidence proving that Jim Cowan created the event, they prefer silence. They prefer a public display of low integrity over doing the right thing and admitting they got it wrong, over admitting they were duped by the lies of Jill MacRae, a former employee.
Race 4 Truth recently tweeted a photograph of MacRae with the text; “The face of a fraudster. Read how Cancer Research UK employee Jill MacRae repeated her fraudulent claim of creating the Race for Life in an interview with the website Informed Edinburgh.” The tweet included a link to the article (which can be read here).
Surprisingly, and somewhat bizarrely, the Race for Life decided to like our tweet.
We can only wonder at what it was they liked?
Possibly they liked the tweet in recognition of their former employees dishonesty and subsequent lies? Possibly they liked the suggestion that MacRae’s false claim is fraudulent given she undoubtedly used it on her CV to gain paid employment? Possibly they actually like the way they have treated Jim Cowan as a consequence of MacRae’s lies and their own refusal to recognise the facts?
We won’t be holding our breath waiting for an answer. Cancer Research UK have already demonstrated that their sole tactic on addressing the truth about the Race for Life is to stay silent, head buried in the sand, hoping the facts will go away and leave them alone. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out why that is; because anything they could say will only incriminate them further, will only further expose the lies.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind!
Join us in our #TheSilenceIsDeafening social media campaign and help get Race for Life creator Jim Cowan the recognition and justice he deserves.
On 10th May Race for Life creator, Jim Cowan, wrote an open letter to Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell, as well as to every single member of CRUK’s Board of Trustees.
The purpose of his letter was a simple one, that CRUK should make their claimed inquiry into the origins of the Race for Life public. After all, if the inquiry was genuine, if it looked at all of the available facts, what have they got to hide?
One month later, the silence from Cancer Research UK has been both deafening and telling.
Jim’s letter has received neither acknowledgement nor reply which suggests heavily that CRUK do fear public scrutiny of their so-called inquiry.
Regular visitors to Race 4 Truth will know why. It is because the evidence is overpowering, it leaves no doubt at all that the creator of the Race for Life is Jim Cowan.
And Jim had gone further even than the evidence shared on this site by offering to put CRUK in contact with witnesses who could testify to the actual events of 1993 and 1994 when Jim had the original idea for the Race for Life and went on to launch it.
Cancer Research UK have previously admitted that they have no documents from that period. Jim does but is being ignored. The silence is deafening.
The questions need to be asked; what evidence exactly did CRUK examine in their so-called inquiry? What did they deliberately ignore? And, why the fear of making it public? Of course, we know the answer to that second question.
Now, Race 4 Truth have begun a campaign, using the hashtag #TheSilenceIsDeafening. The idea behind the campaign is simple; we have been, and will continue to, Tweet and use other social media to contact the media, celebrities, charity organisations, and others to ask the questions; Why won’t CRUK reply? What have they got to hide?
And we will continue the campaign into the future by sharing articles and evidence from our articles page with those key players, all using #TheSilenceIsDeafening.
We will continue to do so until CRUK admit to their 25+ year cover up of the origins of the event and formally recognise Jim for his incredible creation, first dreamed up as a tribute to his father who was sadly taken by cancer in 1993.
Why not join us? Using #TheSilenceIsDeafening hashtag use your own social media to ask the questions of the media, journalists, CRUK supporting celebrities, and others: What have Cancer Research UK got to hide? And why won’t they reply to Jim’s open letter?
Having created the Race for Life only to see a member of staff at Cancer Research UK steal the idea and for the charity’s leadership to support a campaign of lies about the event’s origins (despite being offered evidence as to their claims being fiction), you could be forgiven for thinking that person would want nothing more to do with the charity sector.
Fortunately for a number of other charities that was not the case and Jim Cowan, the man who created the Race for Life, has successfully helped to raise £millions for other causes over the intervening years.
The sheer volume of fundraising events that Jim has been behind is too large to list them all here, the following being just a sample.
For example Jim turned the Poppy Run into a national series of events taking place in all four home countries as well as being the only fun run to be officially staged in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. And armed forces charities further benefited through the creation of the People’s Run 2 Remember, another national series, organised nationally by Jim through a dedicated network of local organisers.
Indeed, if you have taken part in any event which included the term ‘People’s Run’ in its title, you have taken part in an event organised by Jim for the many good causes associated.
Beyond running, he organised the Rio Three Peaks Challenge events, modelled on the UK Three Peaks but using the mountains surrounding Rio de Janeiro and supporting street kids around the world.
From pub nights to dinners, from fun runs to challenge events, from local to national and international charities, Jim has created and managed hundreds of events.
And he has also tackled a number of challenge events himself to raise further funds. From completing the Three Peaks inside 24 hours to taking on Hadrian’s Wall non-stop in 31 hours, and completing the Fan Dance in just outside 4 hours to his current project, Challenge 72.
Challenge 72 will involve Jim and a friend, Aide Myatt, walking 72 miles, in under 72 hours, while each carrying 72lbs on their back, supported by four other friends. It takes place between 27th and 29th August and raises funds for the Grenfell Foundation supporting a community still struggling over three years on from the tragic fire.
If you would like to find out more about Challenge 72, which Jim describes as his toughest challenge yet, full details can be found at www.challenge72.co.uk along with a link to the Just Giving page.
After Challenge 72, what will come next for Jim? He doesn’t know yet. But you can be assured that despite the negative experience provided by Cancer Research UK’s theft of the Race for Life, he is far from finished supporting other important causes.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
The charity sector’s favourite hypocrite is, once again, accepting recognition while continuing to deny any recognition to Jim Cowan, the man who created Race for Life, her charity’s biggest fundraiser.
Yesterday, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) were recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for their “outstanding contribution to tobacco control.” And CRUK’s CEO, Michelle Mitchell wasted no time in telling the world via Twitter.
We are not saying the recognition Mitchell and CRUK received from WHO is not merited, we are highlighting how hypocritical it is to accept recognition for yourself while knowingly denying it to someone else; someone whose creation has raised hundreds of millions of pounds for your charity.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines hypocrisy thus:
Hypocrisy (hɪˈpɒk.rɪ.si); a situation in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe, or that is the opposite of what they do or say at another time: “There’s one rule for her and another rule for everyone else and it’s sheer hypocrisy.”
And in refusing to give the recognition rightly due to Jim Cowan, every time they accept recognition (individually or as an organisation), or bestow recognition on others, they are acting hypocritically.
Back in January we catalogued Mitchell and her charity’s shocking record of hypocrisy asking whether she is the UK charity sector’s biggest hypocrite?
It appears it is a crown she is proud to wear. But then, she does love a bit of recognition!
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind!
One of the themes which keeps recurring when looking at the behaviours of those who lead Cancer Research UK is that of hypocrisy. At times that hypocrisy is so subtle it could be overlooked by those not aware of the facts of the charity’s treatment of Jim Cowan, the man who created the Race for Life. And we can only wonder at what further hypocrisy they may be displaying in other areas we have less information about.
When the current Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell, assumed her role a little over a year ago she was taking the reigns of an organisation where hypocrisy was already embedded as standard and acceptable behaviour by those at the top. We were hopeful that a new broom might bring more integrity and address the issue. Far from it. In fact, Mitchell has taken CRUK’s hypocrisy to new levels, and always delivered with a straight face and with no thought for the impact it has on others.
In 2018 we shared articles addressing CRUK’s institutional hypocrisy. We wondered at their then CEO, Sir Harpal Kumar, and his hypocrisy in steadfastly refusing to recognise (or even acknowledge) Jim Cowan for creating the Race for Life while happily accepting recognition for his own work and achievements. Textbook hypocrisy.
We looked at the issue of hypocrisy across the charity and asked whether CRUK is the home of charity sector hypocrisy? And we looked at the charity’s Chairman, and its committees and Board of Trustees and exposed yet more examples of glaring hypocrisy.
So when CRUK announced that Michelle Mitchell would be succeeding Kumar we took the announcement with some optimism that a new leader might prove to be the turning point. That the charity might rediscover integrity and honesty and cease its hypocrisy.
It didn’t take long to discover that optimism was misplaced. Whether Mitchell brought her own hypocrisy with her or whether she just got consumed by CRUK’s institutional hypocrisy we don’t know. We do know that she has taken that hypocrisy to new levels.
On 20th January this year Mitchell tweeted, “A very important reminder today, and every day. Mental health matters, and mental health problems can be devastating. It’s something I’ve seen up close too many times, and proper support is vital.”
On the surface a positive tweet supporting an important issue. Except, and Mitchell is aware of this, her actions expose her comments as nothing more than PR, as spin. And as hypocrisy.
It is hypocrisy. And it is hypocrisy she is aware of and therefore seemingly cares not a joy about. We know she is aware of it because in October last year when marking World Mental Health Day she also spoke about the importance of addressing mental health issues. We reminded her that neither her nor her organisation cared one jot about Jim Cowan’s mental health when spending 25 years lying about him, when covering up the fraud of their own employee who we have evidenced stole the idea for the Race for Life from Jim. When saying CRUK had never heard of Jim when a prospective employer was checking his CV, thus costing him a job offer. The list goes on. The stress, the pressure, the strain placed on Jim has been enormous. Mitchell’s response? Silence.
Does Mitchell or her organisation care about the possible toll on Jim’s mental health? No. Not a jot. To them mental health is a topic they are selective over, a topic with more value as a PR message than one requiring actions to back up their hollow words.
But hypocrisy demonstrated by her statements on mental health, while inexcusable, probably wouldn’t make Mitchell the charity sector’s biggest hypocrite. No, to award her with that title she would have to have displayed consistent hypocrisy across a range of topics, ably supported by statements from the the organisation she heads.
And, in the short time she has been in post as CEO at Cancer Research UK, we have already highlighted numerous examples of this hypocrisy. It is hypocrisy which comes from the top. It is hypocrisy deeply embedded within the charity’s culture.
27th January 2019: We reported on Mitchell’s tweet where she described as “amazing” meeting Grand Challenge winners. The hypocrisy of recognising some while refusing to recognise others was apparently lost on her.
15th April 2019: We reported how, following correspondence with Mitchell it had become abundantly clear that, while she was/is happy to receive recognition for her own work and achievements (including accepting an OBE), she was going to continue with Cancer Research UK’s policy of refusing to recognise Jim Cowan for creating the Race for Life. An example of text book hypocrisy.
4th May 2019: We shared an analysis of correspondence between Jim Cowan and Michelle Mitchell which highlighted the ongoing hypocrisy of both the CEO and the organisation in refusing to recognise Jim Cowan for his amazing creation. The analysis also highlighted how Mitchell’s (delegated) response has failed to address a single issue raised in Jim’s correspondence. Given the importance Mitchell claims to place on collaboration (see 23rd October 2019 below) we can only wonder at her continued desire not to recognise the importance to her organisation of Jim choosing to collaborate with her charity when he created the Race for Life? It is clearly hypocritical and surely any sensible person or organisation would think twice before collaborating with CRUK in future, especially given their willingness to cover up the fraud of their employee who stole the idea from Jim. Textbook hypocrisy but definitely not textbook collaboration.
5th June 2019: To mark Volunteers Week, Cancer Research UK were again busy on social media, busy thanking and recognising their volunteers. This is as it should be but we questioned the sincerity of those thanks given that no such words of thanks, or even recognition has ever been extended to Jim Cowan for creating the Race for Life. Hypocritically given thank-yous are not thank-yous at all, merely hollow words.
11th June 2019: We gave Mitchell a new title as Cancer Research UK’s ‘Hypocrite in Chief’ when reporting how, yet again, she was gushing on Twitter about CRUK employees receiving recognition for their achievements in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Again, the hypocrisy of doing so while refusing any recognition to Jim Cowan for his incredible creation seemed to pass her by.
13th June 2019: Again the social media world was awash with posts and tweets from CRUK. This time they were asking people to nominate their Race for Life Hero (or Heroes). With a straight face they asked for nominations in the full knowledge that without Jim Cowan there would be no Race for Life and therefore no Race for Life Heroes. Our supporters rallied around and nominated Jim as their Hero. Sadly theirs were the only posts and tweets responding to the request which received no reply. Mitchell’s organisation once again providing an outstanding example of hypocrisy.
7th August 2019: We questioned the hypocrisy of Cancer Research UK selling pitches to caterers who were selling bacon rolls and other bacon products at 2019 Race for Life venues. Why? This is the same Cancer Research UK, the one led by Mitchell, which warns people that bacon is carcinogenic (cancer causing). We wondered whether they saw the hypocrisy in effectively saying, “Bacon is carcinogenic. It causes cancer. Here, have a bacon roll while we pop to the bank!”
15th August 2019: In an interview in Third Sector magazine, Ed Aspell, CRUK’s Director of Fundraising announced plans to retire at the end of the year. In the interview Aspel revealed that he would love to have come up with “that one, radical, transformational change that is different from the traditional model…” Had he done so, it is very reasonable to assume the charity would have lauded his achievement and praised him with recognition. The very opposite of what they have done with Jim Cowan who came up with just such a game changer when creating the Race for Life in 1993.
17th September 2019: Having tweeted about talking to Cancer Research UK supporters about the charity’s history, we replied to her asking how accurate that history is? After all, we know that her organisation has spent over a quarter of a century trying to rewrite the history of the Race for Life and attempting to erase its creator from its history. What we don’t know is what else the charity claims as its ‘history’ is also made up to fit whatever tale they would rather spin. How anyone could be expected to trust any organisation, let alone a charity, which acts in this way, we are at a loss to explain. The ensuing silence from Mitchell suggests she is too.
23rd October 2019: Addressing the NPC Ignites conference, Mitchell talked at length about the importance of collaboration to the charity sector. We can only wonder at her sincerity given her organisation’s history of stealing ideas from those seeking to collaborate with them. The Race for Life comes to mind. Maybe not sincerity, more hypocrisy. We raised the issue with her but, as per usual, the silence in response was deafening. And it wasn’t a one off oversight on her part. Mitchell has continued voicing her hypocritical line on collaboration since, for example in Civil Society magazine on 26th November.
4th November 2019: After a supporter got in touch to tell us about Mitchell’s hypocritical tweet on 10th October marking World Mental Health Day, we reported the facts, highlighted the hypocrisy, and via Twitter (seemingly her favourite platform for communication) asked Mitchell if she cared to reply? Other than as a tool for PR and spin, mental health is not as important a subject to Mitchell and her organisation as they would like us to believe. Or is it just Jim Cowan’s mental health she cares nothing about? Whichever it is, her hypocrisy is laid bare for all to see.
8th January 2020: Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s Media Relations Officer in Scotland, tweeted that she was “so proud to be a part of this” when retweeting a Race for Life tweet. Given her profile states ‘media with honesty’ we challenged her on whether she would be “applying some of that honesty and recognising the man who created the Race for Life? Or did she support CRUK’s lies for the last 25 years, covering up of fraud, etc. Honesty: words or deeds?” Her response was to hide our tweet. Media with honesty? Or gross hypocrisy? You decide.
12th January 2020: In a repeat of their hypocrisy of 13th June 2019 (see above), the charity headed by Mitchell again asked for nominations for Race for Life Heroes. Race 4 Truth supporters again rallied round and nominated Jim Cowan. Again, they were the only nominations, to date, to be ignored.
20th January 2020: As reported above, Mitchell again used the issue of mental health for PR and spin purposes. At least we assume it to be PR and spin because, surely, if she really took the issue seriously she would give far greater consideration to Jim Cowan’s mental health given her charity’s shocking treatment of him.
It is quite a year (and a bit) Mitchell has had in her new role. It is far from easy to reach, let alone sustain, such levels of hypocrisy. That hypocrisy has, under her leadership, reached new levels and remained deeply embedded in the culture at Cancer Research UK.
We find it hard to believe there can be a more hypocritical CEO in the charity sector, or a charity where hypocrisy is more deeply embedded than at Cancer Research UK. And we can only wonder at the breadth and depth of that hypocrisy given what we have discovered is likely to only scratch the surface given the size of the organisation.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘Hypocrisy’ thus: a situation in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe, or that is the opposite of what they do or say at another time: e.g “There’s one rule for her and another rule for everyone else and it’s sheer hypocrisy.”
Created by Jim Cowan, the Race for Life, is well on its way to raising its first £1 Billion. An astonishing amount.
If that isn’t worthy of recognition, we struggle to figure out what is. And it is in the accepting of recognition for themselves while denying it to others that the hypocrisy of Michelle Mitchell and Cancer Research UK really stands out.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.