It is a question we have been asked several times since launching our campaign; “why don’t Cancer Research UK sue the Race 4 Truth?”
Over the last three years we have talked about their low morals and their poor ethics. We have called them out for their dishonesty. We have exposed their hypocrisy. And we have shown how they covered up the fraud of a former employee.
And their response? Silence. Not a word.
The question has to be asked why, when an organisation with a legal department the size of which would make many corporates blush is called out over their morals, their ethics, their hypocrisy, their dishonesty and their cover-ups, why it doesn’t sue those making those accusations?
The answer, as Cancer Research UK are undoubtedly very aware, is a simple one.
You can’t sue someone for telling the truth. You can’t sue someone for reporting facts.
No, Cancer Research UK choose instead to stay silent. What else can they do without further incriminating themselves? Without exposing more hypocrisy? Without making up more tall tales about the Race for Life’s history?
Well, there is one thing they could do. Finally tell the truth. But we’re not holding our breath waiting for that to happen.
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 of 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.
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.
We have exposed the lack of transparency Cancer Research UK has when it comes to where your donations go on numerous occasions. We have exposed the creative exclusion of certain income streams which give the impression that a higher percentage of funds raised support research than actually do. We exposed possible fraud, misinformation, hypocrisy, and more. Now, we turn our attention to how much of the money the public give to CRUK funds not research, but fat cat salaries. You may be surprised.
The Chief Executive’s salary alone (£240,000 + benefits) requires 18,000 people supporting CRUK’s “donate just £2 a month appeal” for twelve months each after ‘on-costs’ are applied.
Using that same calculation, how many people donating “just £2 per month” does it take to pay CRUK’s top earners?
Starting at the very top, CRUK’s top five earners receive over £1 million between them each year. Yes, you read that correctly. Over £1 million.
According to the 10 Percent Campaign, a further 219 CRUK employees earn over £60,000 per annum. This is up from 160 in 2013 and second only to Save The Children, and three times more than the next highest.
Let’s be kind to CRUK and assume that those 219 earn £60,000 and not, as is likely, more, meaning our calculation will be on the low side. That is still a whopping £13,140,000 every year, without on costs.
Let’s add the top five earners £1 million and then calculate on costs to understand how much CRUK needs to raise just to fund these positions BEFORE it funds any other jobs, offices, marketing……..oh yes, and research.
The figure is a mind boggling £24,745,000. Yes, you read that correctly, nearly £25 million, and remember our calculation is on the LOW side. Paying that amount would require over 1 million people to donate “just £2 a month’ for the full year. One million. Just to pay their top salary earners.
And these 224 employees make up less than 6% of CRUK’s total workforce of 3964. Again, yes, you read that correctly. Nearly 4000 people need paying, 224 at mind boggling rates, before a single penny funds the research you thought you were supporting.
And then, the cost of making that “just £2 a month” commercial, CRK’s other slick marketing, office costs, a legal team the size of which would make many corporates blush, and more, and more, also come before any research is funded.
When you donate your hard earned money, it is worth considering what you are supporting. Is it research into cancer or a large, slick machine, which misleads, misrepresents, and which acts both hypocritically and unethically, lying about the origins of its own largest fundraising event (the Race for Life).
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.
Given Cancer Research UK’s continued lies about Jim Cowan and the claim he did not create the Race for Life, even recently costing him a job offer, you would think they would offer an alternative as to where the event started, as to how it was created.
After all, they must have records of the discussions and the meetings which led to the event’s creation? And, given that, surely they paint a consistent story as to the events beginnings?
Well, no. They don’t. But that is the problem with falsehoods, eventually you forget what you claimed and claim something else. And, of course, you have no evidence to support your fiction because it is just that, fiction. No records of discussions, of meetings, of correspondence. Because they don’t exist.
Interested in checking out Cancer Research UK’s false claims, we did a little research which has exposed a story which keeps changing. There may be more and different claims, but in less than a day’s digging, this is what we have uncovered:
In a letter from Jill MacRae (nee Baker), its then National Events Manager, what was then the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) credited Jim Cowan with coming to them with the original idea for the Race for Life. This was the last time they were honest about who created the event.
After severing all ties to Jim Cowan, Jill MacRae started to claim she came up with the Race for Life herself. It would appear that ICRF/CRUK believed her. She went on to build a successful career in the sector on her false claim.
In an article in the 19th July issue of Athletics Weekly, an ICRF/CRUK spokesperson claimed that the Race for Life was based on, “a concept from America called Walk for a Cure.”
In the same issue of Athletics Weekly, a letter from Louise Holland, the Race for Life’s then Director, stated, “the concept was taken from the Susan Komen Foundation.”
In November of 2013, Jill MacRae contacted Jim Cowan via Linked In and email threatening legal action if he did not stop claiming to have created the Race for Life. Supported by Jane Arnell, Tony Elischer, and Sarah Guthrie (former colleagues of hers at ICRF/CRUK), she claimed they were all “shocked” by Jim’s “misleading claims.”
MacRae claimed to have never heard of Jim Cowan and asserted that her colleagues had not either. This 1994 letter from Jill MacRae to Jim Cowan puts the lie to that lie. Since launching Race 4 Truth last year, we have shared other evidence that includes correspondence to and from Jill Macrae to support Jim’s position.
Also in November of 2013, Jill MacRae amended the Race for Life entry on Wikipedia to state; “Race for Life was created by fundraisers Jill MacRae (nee Baker) and Jane Arnell at what was then the Imperial CancerResearch Fund.” At Jim’s request, supported by evidence, Wikipedia amended the page to show the truth, that the creator of the Race for Life was him.
On 12th December, Jim Cowan responded to Jill MacRae’s threats stating; “To say that I am surprised at both your claims and you accusation would be an understatement. Your cynical duplicity in laying claim to the original idea is preposterous and your accusation that my own claims are untrue is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.”
He added, “It also appears that at some stage you made a conscious decision to claim the idea as your own, whether by misleading your colleagues at the ICRF or with their collusion is unclear.”
Jim has not heard from MacRae, or her colleagues, since.
Jim Cowan was advised that the website ‘Informed Edinburgh’ had carried an article titled ‘Spotlight on Jill MacRae’ in which she stated; “I created the Race for Life and organised the very first 5K event way back in 1993 (sic), when I was National Events Manager at what is now Cancer Research UK.” The article was removed after Jim contacted the website advising them that, “Ms MacRae knows this not to be the case.” Indeed, she doesn’t even seem to know in which year the first Race for Life was staged (it was 1994 and was organised by Jim Cowan).
In May 2017 , Nicki Ford from Cancer Research UK stated, “We do not publicly credit anyone with originating the event.”
In September 2017, Cancer Research UK’s Chairman, Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, stated, “We do not credit anyone with originating the event.”
It would appear that, unable to prove any of their previous claims Cancer Research UK and Jill MacRae had made about the creation of the event, the policy was now to simply shut up and claim nothing.
Maybe she didn’t get the memo shared by Ford and Borysiewicz, or maybe it was just time to change the claim again. In May of 2018 Cancer Research UK’s current National Events Manager, Annette Quarry, stated that the original pilot was from yet another different source, this time the American Cancer Society.
Writing on behalf of Cancer Research UK’s new Chief Executive (Michelle Mitchell), CRUK’s Complaints Manager (Graeme McCluskey) repeated the “we do not publicly credit anyone with originating the event line.” This was in response to Jim Cowan offering to sit down and share documents evidencing his being the event’s creator.
Indeed, rather than accept the offer, CRUK’s stance was to state the blindingly obvious, that they have no documents from the beginnings of the Race for Life. Rather than correct the misinformation they have shared for 25 years, rather than get the history of the event right, they deliberately chose to continue their integrity fee campaign to erase Jim Cowan from the event’s history.
We now wait with baited breath for the next claim as to the creation of the Race for Life. There are two things we know for sure though:
While CRUK’s story keeps changing, Jim Cowan’s has remained consistent throughout.
While CRUK and their various employees (current and former) have offered no supporting evidence for any of their claims, Jim Cowan has.
The truth is consistent. Cancer Research UK are not.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.
Yesterday (16th September), in a Tweet Cancer Research UK Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell, mentioned talking about, “the charity’s history, its impact & the big questions that will shape our future.”
We find it surprising that Mitchell, in the full knowledge that parts of the charity’s history are made up, could post such a Tweet with a straight face.
We replied to her Tweet with the direct question, “how accurate is the history you talked about?” We then reminded her; “you have rewritten the history of @raceforlife to exclude the person who created it and then spent 25 years spreading different fictional versions.” We then posed the question, “how can anyone know for sure that you haven’t rewritten other bits?”
Mitchell might, for the uninformed claim that she knows nothing of this rewriting of history, although as CEO she should avail herself of the facts. Of course, she has had that opportunity but declined it. We posted another Tweet reminding her of this; “it is no good claiming, as you have, that you have no documentation from the event’s creation, we have offered to sit down and share documents/evidence with you but you were not interested.” We then asked, “how can you talk about @CR_UK history when you don’t even care that it is accurate?”
To date, predictably, Mitchell has maintained her organisation’s hypocritical and unethical ‘heads in the sand’ approach and offered neither explanation nor reply to our Tweets.
So, to go back to her Tweet, surely one of the big questions that will shape her 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, but she declined that offer too. It appears that historical accuracy, and with it trust, is not high up her list of priorities.
Cancer Research UK might continue to deny Jim Cowan had anything to do with the Race for Life but, in doing so, they ignore correspondence which clearly shows that he came to them with the ‘original idea’ (their words).
One such example is the letter below from the Imperial Cancer Research Fund’s (Cancer Research UK’s then name) National Events Manager Jill MacRae in which she states; “Mr Cowan came to us with the original idea..…”
Interestingly, as we have evidenced in a recent article, Jill MacRae is one of the people who has fraudulently since claimed to have created the event herself, it appears with the full endorsement of Cancer Research UK, just one of many ‘stories’ used by that organisation to deny Jim the recognition he so rightly deserves.
It is time for Cancer Research UK to stop lying and to put right the wrongs done to Jim and give him the credit he deserves.
In the Race For Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind!