It is reasonable for the public to expect honesty, transparency, integrity and accountability from charities. Unfortunately, in the case of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) you get none of them.
That CRUK happily turned a blind eye to the fraud of their then employee Jill MacRae has been a matter of record for some time.
MacRae infamously claimed to be the creator of the Race for Life after stealing the event from its real inventor, Jim Cowan. So brazen was she that she even threatened Cowan with legal action if he did not desist from his own, honest, claim. But he stood firm and MacRae, now with Barnardo’s, backed down and removed all such claims from her social media.
However, by including this false claim on her CV, she committed an act of fraud, an act supported by CRUK who happily provided references to that effect. Indeed, historically CRUK recognised MacRae as the event’s creator, a falsehood they have never corrected.
Initially they supported MacRae’s dishonesty and fraud, then they cited a series of other origins for the event before, eventually, rather than show integrity and admit they had been wrong, they adopted a line of ‘not one person was responsible for creating the event.’ This, despite all evidence clearly showing Cowan did create the event. And, in not corrected the lies, in continuing to deny Cowan any recognition, they display a lack of honesty, a lack of accountability, and a complete absence of integrity.
CRUK’s dishonesty is further evidenced by the numerous deliberately misleading claims they make to draw people into their events. Take for example the claim, ‘this is beating cancer’ used to promote the Race for Life. The reality is that not a single penny from the event entry fees went to research and not a single penny from merchandising went to funding research. Clearly not ‘beating cancer’ but more likely funding the corporate excess CRUK enjoy.
In fairness to CRUK, those entering the Race for Life who decided to also raise sponsorship might well have contributed to ‘beating cancer’ but that is not what the advertising claimed. And, when challenged, CRUK would not clarify what percentage of funds raise through sponsorship went to actual research, went to actually ‘beating cancer.’
It is a very murky picture. It is a picture of deliberately misleading claims, of outright dishonesty, of a absence of integrity, and a complete lack of transparency and accountability. It is certainly not what the public should expect from a charity.
And this is what we know about. How much dishonesty remains uncovered?
For where there is one lie, there are usually more. And when an organisation lies with so ease and such frequency it is usually because dishonesty is so deeply embedded within its culture.
IN THE RACE FOR TRUTH, CANCER RESEARCH UK ARE LAGGING BEHIND
Last week Cancer Research UK celebrated their 20th Anniversary as a ‘brand’ (following the merger of two older cancer charities).
Social media and the airwaves were filled with stories of the charity’s history, its impact, and the big questions that will shape its future.
And yet, the questions which should be asked weren’t; how many of these tales can be believed? How much of the charity’s last twenty years (and the years preceding that) are works of fiction?
Cancer Research UK, its CEO Michelle Mitchell, and many others within the organisation (including its Trustees), are fully aware that at least one key part of the charity’s history is made up. And that must cast doubt on other elements of its reported history. 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?
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? 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 lie; 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? And if one part of that story is told while known to be false, which other parts of the story 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, ignore any facts we don’t like approach.
Surely, therefore, as well as the accuracy of its history, 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, 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 and her predecessor (Harpal Kumar) on more than one occasion, but she (and he) declined that offer too. It appears that historical accuracy, and with it trust, are not high up Cancer Research UK’s list of priorities.
The public have long been cynical about the honesty of politicians, and recent events in Westminster and in Downing Street have done nothing to change that cynicism, likely only embedding it deeper.
It is a sad fact that with cynicism comes almost an acceptance of dishonesty in politics. While some are moved to anger, many sit idly by and simply shrug their shoulders and continue about their lives.
But what has this to do with the charity sector?
The public have a right to expect honesty and integrity from charities. Many, blindly, believe that the sector is an honest one, one driven by integrity and managed by good people, people with morals.
And, for most of the sector, that may well be true. But how many dishonest charities would it take to undermine confidence in the rest?
If one of the nation’s largest charities has displayed dishonesty, hypocrisy, poor morals, low integrity and turned a blind eye to fraud, is that an alarm bell for the whole sector? And, if so, what would the sector do to protect itself?
It is not a theoretical question. For over a quarter of a century Cancer Research UK has told a range of untruths about the origins of the Race for Life. For 25 years successive CEOs, Chairmen, and others have hypocritically accepted recognition for their own work, including knighthoods and other honours, while denying any recognition (let alone thanks) for the man who created the Race for Life.
What does this say about the integrity and morals of that charity and those running it?
And when it emerged that it was, initially, a Cancer Research UK employee who stole the idea for the Race for Life from Jim Cowan (its actual creator), and who covered up her tracks before fraudulently claiming to be the event’s originator on her CV, what did Cancer Research UK do? They looked the other way. No comment. Nothing to see here.
That same individual is now in the employ of two other charities, one well known (Barnardos), the other less so (Cultivating Mindfulness). Both are aware of her dishonest and fraudulent past. Both choose to look the other way.
There are serious questions to be asked of those tasked with running these charities. However, their lack of action to date suggests that they may be lost causes; too far gone down a dishonest and immoral pathway.
But those serious questions can be asked of other charities, aware of some (if not all) of the above. What does their silence say about them? About their integrity?
They might point to those responsible for ensuring the honesty and integrity of the charity sector in the UK and ask why they fail to act? But looking the other way while expecting others to act is not an indicator of moral fortitude, of integrity.
And, from those who do have ultimate responsibility for the sound running of the sector? Silence.
The Charity Commission? Silence.
The Fundraising Regulator? Silence.
The NCVO? Silence.
They choose to look the other way. They all state the importance of integrity. But none are prepared to act with integrity and properly investigate Cancer Research UK’s quarter of a century of lies and deceit, of covering up the origins of their largest, most successful fundraising event.
The event’s creator, Jim Cowan, deserves better than that. The British public deserve better than that.
Or are we to sit idly by, shrugging our shoulders and continuing with our lives while the reputation of this vital sector gets tarnished by the dishonesty of a few?
Those responsible need to act now. For once the confidence of the British public is lost, once the general view becomes one of ‘if one is at it, they’re all at it’ then the battle is lost.
There are too many good, moral, important charities run with integrity by decent people to allow that to happen. But looking the other way won’t solve the issue for any of them.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
Cancer Research UK Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell has laughably Tweeted about the importance of striking a deal for the UK to remain a member of Horizon Europe, the EU’s Research & Innovation Programme.
Well, in her Tweet Mitchell states; “lack of participation would be a significant blow to science and cancer research in the UK and weaken our position to collaborate.”
But the question must be posed; why would anyone trust Mitchell and the organisation she heads enough to collaborate with them?
Because Cancer Research UK (CRUK) are the organisation Jim Cowan took his amazing idea (the Race for Life) to with the intention of organising it and CRUK benefitting. You know, a collaboration.
However, instead of collaborating with Jim, CRUK employee Jill MacRae stole the idea before fraudulently claiming it as her own. The silence of subsequent Chief Executives Harpal Kumar and Michelle Mitchell, as well as Chairman Leszek Borysiewicz, despite being fully informed on the matter, exposes CRUK as an organisation which will steal ideas from those it is pretending to collaborate with, cover up the theft, support fraud, all without giving it a second thought, and without any sign of integrity or moral compass.
Yes Ms Mitchell, remaining members of Horizon Europe would undoubtedly benefit the UK. But, fully informed, who in their right mind would collaborate with you?
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
In July we reported how Race for Life creator Jim Cowan had written open letters* to the sponsors of the Race For Life to highlight Cancer Research UK’s flawed in-house inquiry into the event’s origins and asking them to use their influence as event partners to lean on CRUK to open that inquiry up to public scrutiny. After all, if it was a properly conducted and honest inquiry, what could they possible have to hide by doing so?
In his letters Jim stated; “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?”
Surely, what was being asked of the leaders of each of these companies was a reasonable request. That is, assuming those companies have the integrity and the moral compass to care about right and wrong, to care about the ethics and values of organisations they partner with and promote their brands through.
Sadly, none of them do. Over three months later only one has even bothered to reply. A Tesco ‘Customer Service Specialist’ replied stating that they were unable to hep with the matter. Global Radio (owners of Heart FM) and Scottish Power have not replied at all.
What does this say about the values of these three companies? What does it say about their moral and ethical positions, about their integrity? Obviously they see no issue in partnering with unethical organisations of dubious morals, organisations with a history of dishonesty who have been evidenced to look the other way when employees commit fraud. We know this because that is the history of Cancer Research UK and the Race for Life, catalogued on this website
We decided to look further and to research the stated values given by each company online.
Tesco’s ‘Core Purpose and Values’ statement does not make any reference to ethics, morals, integrity or honesty. None. Given this, given these values hold no relevance to Tesco, maybe their lack of interest in intervening to ask CRUK to display some integrity should not be surprising?
Tesco’s statement does state; “we treat people how they want to be treated.” Clearly not in the case of Jim Cowan. It also states; “every little help makes a big difference.” Maybe it does. If only Tesco could be bothered to offer that help. Especially on a matter of truth and honesty, of integrity.
Scottish Power’s parent company, Iberdrola, has a clear statement of ‘Our Values’ on its website. Under the section titled ‘Sustainable Energy’ they give ‘ethics’ as one of those values along with ‘responsibility’ and ‘transparency.’
And yet, their ethics do not stretch to having questions for a partner (CRUK) who has been evidenced several times over to act without ethics, without either morals or integrity. What does this say of ‘responsibility?’ Obviously only responsible enough to turn a blind-eye to wrong doing but not responsible enough to address it. And how believable is a value of ‘transparency’ in a company willing to look the other way when one of its partners (CRUK) acts without any transparency by keeping a flawed inquiry in-house, avoiding any public scrutiny?
And what of Global Entertainment, the owner of Heart FM? Despite searching, we could not find any Values Statement for the company at all. The closest thing we could find was on the ‘About’ page of their website where they state; “People may forget what you said, people may forget what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” They might want to run that statement past Jim Cowan and ask him how their turning a blind eye to Cancer Research UK’s lack of ethics, lack of transparency, lack of integrity, makes him feel?
We also found a report in The Guardian newspaper from March 2010 reporting on Global’s (then) new Mission Statement. It included the line; “here’s to the obsessive ones who don’t walk by anything they can put right themselves.” We can only assume that Global have changed their mind about that one as they walked past this issue without even a sideways glance.
It is clear that Cancer Research UK and the Race for Life have found three partners who mirror their own shady values, who lack the ethics, morals or integrity to stand up and do the right thing.
In the cold light of day the ‘values’ talked about on the websites of Tesco, Global and Iderbrola are little more than empty words, window dressing covering up an absence of integrity they would rather their customers do not see.
And Cancer Research UK’s so-called inquiry remains hidden from any public scrutiny. The silence remains deafening.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK, Tesco, Scottish Power, and Heart FM are all lagging behind.
*The open letters from Jim Cowan to the sponsors of the Race for Life were dated 28th July 2021 and all were sent by recorded delivery. They were addressed to: Ashley Tabor-King, Founder & President, Global Entertainment & Talent Group Limited. Keith Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Power Renewables & Chief Corporate Officer, Scottish Power. Ken Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Tesco.
Then, it was a tweet about the fraud of former Cancer Research UK employee Jill MacRae who had falsely claimed to have created the Race for Life.
This time it was another tweet about MacRae, this one questioning whether someone with her history of unrepentant lying is a suitable person to be working with young people.
Given Cancer Research UK’s 25 years of dishonesty about the creation of Race for Life, it seems bizarre that they ‘like’ either tweet.
If they like the tweets because they find the dishonesty of MacRae as appalling as us, then perhaps they should look in the mirror and question their own long standing issues with facing up to and accepting the truth.
Perhaps they liked the first one because it exposes a fraud? But then, they could put the record straight on that fraud but choose not to.
Did they like the more recent tweet because they agree that unrepentant liars should not be working with and influencing young people? But surely, their own record of avoiding truth is no better than MacRae’s? Some may say worse.
It would seem that the only reason they like the tweets is because they like MacRae and her dishonesty. After all, their own record of avoiding truth is worse than MacRae’s as, through their silence, they turn a blind eye to, and help to cover up, MacRae’s history of fraud and dishonesty.
Despite the overwhelming evidence proving that Jim Cowan created the Race for Life, 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 that Jill MacRae told.
We won’t be holding our breath waiting for an answer as to why they now like these tweets. Cancer Research UK have already demonstrated that their sole tactic on addressing the truth about the Race for Life is to ignore facts and continue the cover up. 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 that they have supported and repeated.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind!
MacRae’s new job involves working with young people on ‘mindfulness’ and the question has to be asked whether it is appropriate for a proven liar, someone who fraudulently made claims on her CV, to be working with young people?
MacRae is not someone who made a mistake in her past, has recanted, apologised, and is rehabilitated. No. MacRae is someone who knowingly stole and lied, built a career on the back of that lie, and who has never recanted, has never apologised, has never put right her wrong.
You could be forgiven for thinking she does not regret her past misdemeanours, that she sees little or nothing wrong with what she did.
And that begs the question; should such a person be working with young people on ‘mindfulness’?
MacRae is working as a yoga instructor at the charity, Cultivating Mindfulness. The charity works free of charge with young people between the ages of 12 and 23.
The Cultivating Mindfulness website states that they aim to “make wellbeing programmes that nourish the whole person.”
Their vision (sic) states; “We are devoted to helping our communities to work together to help each other thrive and flourish. Our mindfulness, meditation and wellbeing programmes and activities aim to support people to learn new ways of being to live happier, healthier and more meaningful lives. Our goals include creating more mindful and compassionate communities and to celebrate the spirit of giving to inspire others to be kinder.”
Does MacRae’s history of unrepentant dishonesty and the effect that had on the Race for Life’s actual creator, Jim Cowan, sound like ‘celebrating the spirit of giving to inspire others to be kinder’ to you?
No. Not to us either.
And MacRae’s profile on the website states; “Jill explores how nature and the changing seasons can influence not only how we practice yoga but how we live our lives, inspiring us to live each moment more mindfully.”
Let us repeat that last bit; “…inspiring us to live each moment more mindfully.”
How exactly? By stealing the ideas from others, by cheating people of their due recognition, by building careers built on lies? And by being totally unrepentant about the whole thing?
Perhaps MacRae could start inspiring young people to live each moment more mindfully by demonstrating some of what she preaches. She could admit her lies, apologise and ensure that she supports our campaign to get Jim Cowan the recognition he truly deserves for his incredible creation.
Until she does, maybe it would be unwise to have her involved in any sort of work where young people might consider her a role model, a teacher of values.
Until then, in the Race 4 Truth, Jill MacRae will always be lagging behind.
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!