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
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.
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!
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 Imperial Cancer Research UK (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.
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!
While Race 4 Truth has issue with the organisation’s leadership, we feel for those members of staff affected by these cuts and send our best wishes to them all, together with our hopes that they all find new roles at organisations (hopefully with more integrity) very soon.
And wouldn’t now be a good time to have someone like Jim Cowan, someone with the ability to create such a new, groundbreaking, fundraising event on your side instead of having deliberately lied about, ignored and alienated him over so many years?
In the Race For Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind!