Tag Archives: Cancer Plays Dirty


2019 marks 25 years since the very first Race for Life was staged in 1994 in London’s Battersea Park.

Most organisations might choose such a landmark as an opportunity to thank the person who created such a successful event, but not Cancer Research UK.

Jim Cowan came up with the idea for the event in 1993 following his father’s terminal cancer diagnosis. He took the idea to what was then the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) and organised the first Race for Life a year later.

Unfortunately for Jim, the ICRF’s the Events Manager, Jill MacRae, decided to claim the idea as her own and went on to build a successful career in the charity sector on the back of her deception while Jim was told he was surplus to requirements.

Over the intervening years ICRF became Cancer Research UK (CRUK), MacRae moved on, and CRUK lost track of how the enormously successful event had begun, crediting a range of incorrect sources but ignoring Jim.

Nowadays, the people at the top of the charity know the facts but choose to ignore them, not even correcting the incorrect credits of the past. Jim continues to be ignored and, far from being recognised, thanked, or involved in the 25th birthday celebration of his creation, finds himself written out of its history by the charity it has done so much for.

We leave it to others to judge the level of integrity displayed by CRUK in their actions, instead choosing to thank Jim for his incredible, amazing creation; one which has undoubtedly saved  many lives and changed tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of others for the better.

CRUK won’t say it, but we will. Thank you Jim! 

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.


What is hypocrisy?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it 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 this definition fits perfectly in describing the culture within Cancer Research UK and its policy of accepting recognition both individually and collectively while refusing to offer recognition to Jim Cowan, the person who created their most popular and significant fundraising event; the Race for Life.

This culture of hypocrisy comes from the very top of the organisation with the new CEO, Michelle Mitchell, leading the way in continuing the practice embedded by her predecessor, Harpal Kumar. Both have refused to recognise Jim Cowan for his incredible contribution to the charity’s fundraising and yet both are happy to accept recognition for their own work, including a knighthood by Kumar and an OBE by Mitchell.

The organisation’s Chairman, Leszek Borysiewicz, is no better. He endorses the refusal to recognise Cowan but has also accepted recognition for himself in the form of his knighthood.

What about Cancer Research UK’s committees and trustee membership? On page 45 of their 2017/18 Annual Report we can see that the thirteen strong list includes three knights and one dame. Yes, the hypocrisy runs deep within the very fabric of the charity and is clearly endorsed from the top down.

What of other examples? There are many and anyone following the organisation’s social media will see regular tweets and posts offering recognition and thanks to those who help the charity, and thanking those who recognise them. But recognition for Jim Cowan, not a peep.

Examples include using Father’s Day as a marketing tool and calling on people to honour fathers affected by cancer while ignoring Jim Cowan and denying him recognition for creating the event, in full knowledge of the fact that the inspiration behind Jim’s creating of the Race for Life was his own father’s cancer diagnosis in 1993.

How about Cancer Research UK’s own annual Flame of Hope awards in recognition of their volunteers achievements, something we applaud. But every time they Tweet or otherwise share details of Flame of Hope Award winners without also recognising the man who created the Race for Life they again demonstrate that deeply embedded cultural hypocrisy.

Then there was Nicholas McGranahan, group leader at the CRUK-UCL Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence, who last year won the MD Anderson Wilson Stone Memorial Award. Cancer Research UK were quick to applaud the award, to promote the achievements of one of their own. But what of Jim Cowan? Still nothing. 

The examples are many, of which these are but a few, led by the people at the very top of the charity every one of them providing a dictionary definition example of the hypocrisy which is not only embedded within the organisation but actively encouraged by Cancer Research UK’s leadership.

We do not criticise the recognition of any of the above, we take that recognition at face value and assume it to be deserved. But we ask Cancer Research UK, doesn’t Jim Cowan deserve recognition too? Doesn’t the person who created your biggest and most popular fundraising event deserve recognition (if not thanks) too?

Recognition for Jim Cowan is long, long overdue, a quarter of a century overdue. We had hoped that change at the top at Cancer Research UK would finally bring that change. Unfortunately, hypocrisy continues to reign supreme.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.


In our most recent articles we have shared correspondence from both Race 4 Truth and from Jim Cowan to Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s new Chief Executive, asking her to reconsider the organisation’s refusal to recognise Jim for creating the Race for Life.

For your reference, you can read our letter to Mitchell here, and her non-response here, followed by Jim Cowan’s follow up to her here.

After a wait of four weeks, Jim did eventually receive a reply although not from Mitchell, instead from her organisation’s Complaints Manager, Graeme McCluskey. We share that letter here with analysis of its content below.

It is perhaps telling that Mitchell does not extend the courtesy of replying herself, perhaps choosing to create distance between herself and the charity’s continuing and deliberate ignoring of the facts?

We had hoped when Mitchell was appointed that a new broom might see the dawn of a new culture at CRUK however, the reference to CRUK Chairman Sir Leszek Borysiewicz’s September 2017 correspondence tells us that under the new CEO’s guidance it will be ‘old broom, old culture’ – a culture lacking integrity and of questionable ethics, not to mention hugely hypocritical.

McCluskey, on behalf of Mitchell, repeats the mantra of “we do not credit anyone with originating any of our events”, stating that CRUK’s position has not changed. It sounds reasonable but is far from it.

  1. Cancer Research UK lied about the origins of the Race for Life for nearly a quarter of a century (outlined here). The ‘we do not credit anyone’ line was introduced in 2017 solely to avoid having to face up to and admit those lies. Many of those lies remain in the public domain, uncorrected. Any organisation with integrity would address this as a matter of urgency.
  2. The Race for Life is the only CRUK event which was not developed in-house or by hired contractor. Therefore any rule applying to it being developed internally and individuals responsible not being recognised should not apply.
  3. The event was entirely conceived independently of CRUK by Jim Cowan (see article here) and with the intention he organise and develop it. After he took it to Cancer Research UK (then known as Imperial Cancer Research Fund) proposing it could be a huge event raising funds for them, it was their staff who effectively stole the event by trademarking it behind Jim’s back before informing him he was no longer needed.
  4. They regularly credit, recognise, and thank individuals and organisations external to CRUK for organising fundraising events and challenges for them. Hypocrisy at its best.
  5. They happily accept recognition both for individuals and collectively as an organisation from external bodies. More hypocrisy.
  6. And even more hypocritically, their Chairman (a knighthood), their previous CEO (a knighthood – see article here), and Mitchell herself (an OBE) have happily accepted honours in recognition of their own achievements while refusing to recognise Jim Cowan.

McCluskey’s letter continues by claiming the charity has no record of the communication regarding the job opportunity lost to Jim when CRUK stated they had never heard of him (article here). Apart from being very convenient, it seems to support a view that record keeping within the organisation is somewhat lax and a long way short of what should be expected.

Cancer Research UK, the letter states, has neither employee nor contractor records going back to 1994. What the relevance of this is we do not know, other than to deliberately evade the fact that Jim Cowan was neither an employee nor a contractor in 1993 when he proposed the event to them, nor in 1994 when he organised the very first Race for Life.

McCluskey then reports that his organisation has no internal records of Jim’s involvement either,  suggesting they know he was neither employee nor contractor.

  1. Apart from being very convenient for CRUK it is also not unsurprising given it is highly likely that their then employee Jill MacRae would have covered her tracks and removed evidence to the contrary when falsely and fraudulently claiming to be the event’s originator in 1994/5 (details here and here).
  2. Regardless of (1), Jim offered to meet and share documentary evidence with Mitchell. Given the admission that CRUK has no documentary evidence of their own concerning the origins of the event, some might consider it strange that they have no interest (indeed, make no mention of) this offer. This is the ostrich approach, keeping their heads buried in the sand to avoid hearing facts that support a truth they know but won’t acknowledge. Yet again, this brings the organisation’s integrity into question.
  3. They know the lies they told over 25 years do not hold water. Indeed their lies contradict each other so frequently did they change their story prior to assuming their present ‘we don’t credit anyone’ position. They know they backed a fake and a fraudster in MacRae and rather than do the right thing and show some integrity they choose to keep the truth buried, thereby continuing to support the lie through their silence and their ‘credit no one’ stance.
  4. Indeed, it is about much more than giving credit where credit is due; it is about doing the right thing. What is it that they are so scared of that they do not even want to meet Jim to see and discuss his evidence which includes original documentation?
  5. The only logical conclusion is that they lack the collective moral compass, moral leadership and integrity to do the right thing and admit that they got it wrong.
  6. CRUK’s stance stems back to MacRae’s theft of the event from Jim. Everything since has been to protect that lie. Maybe initially CRUK were unaware but integrity would demand that once exposed, the lie be corrected, apologies made, and due recognition given.

Without correcting the lies of the last 25 years, many of their own staff are in ignorance of the event’s origins having been sold those same lies by their employer; a situation damning of the organisation’s leadership over that time. This is demonstrated by their National Events Manager, Annette Quarry’s (a CRUK employee of over ten years) misinformed insistence that the event originated with the American Cancer Society. This, in 2018 after the ‘credit no one’ policy was supposedly in place. One can only wonder at which version of CRUK’s fake history others in their current and former employ subscribe to. We do know it won’t be the factual version.

In addition to highlighting a disturbing absence in integrity within such a large charity, the ‘credit no one’ stance is extremely hypocritical.

  1. As mentioned above, Borysiewicz (Chairman), Harpal Kumar (previous CEO), and Mitchell have all accepted recognition for themselves while denying recognition for Jim Cowan.
  2. CRUK and Race for Life’s social media are littered with recognition and thanks for their own staff and volunteers while continuing to deny any recognition to Jim Cowan.
  3. CRUK are happy to accept recognition and thanks from others while continuing to deny any recognition and thanks to Jim Cowan.
  4. CRUK regularly thank and recognise a range of external fundraisers, volunteers, and events while (you guessed it) continuing to deny any recognition and thanks to Jim Cowan.

Given all of the above, is it any wonder that Mitchell has chosen not to meet with Jim? Is it any wonder that she delegated even replying to his letter? Perhaps, she is fully aware of the facts around the creation of the Race for Life, she is aware that the charity she now leads has lied about that creation for a quarter of a century? Whether she is aware or not, she should be. It is part of her role as CEO to be informed on such matters. The integrity and moral compass of the charity are being brought into question under her watch. That she chooses to distance herself is incriminating even without considering any/all of the above.

The correspondence between Race 4 Truth, Michelle Mitchell, and Jim Cowan started in January and concluded in April. During that correspondence Race 4 Truth and Jim raised several key points to Mitchell, points which needed addressing or, at a minimum, acknowledging:

  1. That the original motivation behind Jim creating the Race for Life was his own father’s eventually fatal cancer diagnosis. IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK
  2. That there was documentary evidence available to support the facts and to prove that Jim was the creator of the Race for Life. IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK
  3. That, in addition to documentary evidence, witnesses were available to support the fact that Jim created the Race for Life. IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK
  4. That one of their own employees falsely and fraudulently claimed to be the originator of the Race for Life. IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK
  5. The question of the integrity of the charity were its current stance on the creation of the Race for Life to continue. IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK
  6. The question of hypocrisy of the charity and, individually, of its leadership were its current stance on the creation of the Race for Life to continue. IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK
  7. The offer to meet, discuss and share evidence proving who was responsible for the creation of the Race for Life was also IGNORED BY CANCER RESEARCH UK

In the interests of balance, the following are those items raised during our correspondence not ignored by Cancer Research UK:

  1. None. None at all.

Cancer Research UK’s stance can only be described as ostrich like. They know the facts are out there, they know they have been wrong for 25 years, but so long as they keep their head buried in the sand, they can continue to ignore the truth.



On 18th April we shared details of our letter to Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s new Chief Executive, regarding that charity’s disgraceful and continued refusal to recognise Jim Cowan for creating the Race for Life.

On 23rd April, we shared Mitchell’s non-reply which stated their hypocritical most recent position that they do not recognise anyone with originating any of their events. Other than that statement, her reply ducked all the points raised, stating that as they related to Mr Cowan she would be unable to enter into communication.

We shared our original letter and Mitchell’s reply with Jim and he decided to write his own letter to the CEO of CRUK in the hope that, as her reply had suggested, she might be willing to enter into communication with him.

With Jim’s consent, we share his letter here. We feel it speaks for itself. We will share and analyse Mitchell’s response in the coming days.

More to follow…



On Monday (15th April) we updated you as to why we had been posting so few articles recently.

After writing to Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s new CEO, on 7th January we were hoping that a new era of honesty and integrity might dawn at the charity. Unfortunately this is not the case.

In the interests of transparency and clarity we will be sharing our letter and the correspondence which followed. We will also be analysing exactly what Mitchell and CRUK’s replies mean in terms of their honesty, integrity and, in Mitchell’s case, hypocrisy.

Today, we share what we wrote in the letter which opened the correspondence on 7th January. We feel it speaks for itself.

More to follow…


Here at the Race 4 Truth we have deliberately posted very few new articles over recent months. Why? Because we have been corresponding with Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s new Chief Executive, in the hope that new leadership might see a desire to improve integrity and end the hypocrisy of her predecessor and of the current Chairman.

Having failed to get a satisfactory response, we passed the correspondence on to Jim Cowan who wrote his own letter to Mitchell. Rather than reply herself, she passed Jim’s letter to CRUK’s Complaints Manager, Graeme McCluskey, who eventually replied informing Jim that nothing would be changing.

We will be sharing these letters over the next couple of weeks and we will be analysing exactly what the contents of those letters tells us about the integrity of CRUK and its new leadership, along with the continued hypocrisy.

It is reasonable to suggest that hypocrisy continues to reign supreme as Mitchell, who was happy to accept an OBE in recognition of her own work and achievements, does not see fit to recognise the work and achievement of Jim Cowan in creating the Race for Life.

More to follow in the coming days.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.


The Race for Life’s Twitter feed is usually a place and half truths and lies by omission (such as the one which stated entering the Race for Life helps beat cancer, in the full knowledge that not a single penny of the entry fee supports research).

But we quite like the idea of being able to make your own Race for Life sign offered in a tweet on 12th February, and available on their website.

We like the idea so much, we used their template to make our own sign!

We hope you (and they) like it.

In theRace 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.


We have mentioned before how Cancer Research UK’s only defence to Race 4 Truth has been to offer no defence.

Now, unable to respond to to facts about themselves, they have taken the next step and simply blocked us from following their social media.

Cancer Research UK Events North West – @CRUKEventsNW – have blocked us from following and reading their tweets. 

We can only conclude that they do not like being pulled up on their half truths, fictions, hypocrisy and poor ethics.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.


In their own words, Cancer Research UK view the Race for Life as, the world’s most important race.”

Given the importance they give the event, you would think they would be happy to recognise the man who created the event. You would think they might even be grateful enough to say a simple, “thank you.”

But no.

Over the past quarter of a century since Jim Cowan created the Race for Life, Cancer Research UK have attempted to airbrush him from history with a highly unethical campaign of false stories, lies, suspected fraud, and more.

Whether it is the world’s most important race or not, surely it is time that Cancer Research UK acknowledged the man who created, giving him the long overdue credit he deserves.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind!


The Race for Life are offering anyone who completed the event in 2018 the opportunity to create their very own ‘back sign’.

They say it is as a “thank you” to everyone who took part. However, where people should wear it once they have attached it to their back they don’t suggest.

To the supermarket? To sporting events? Doing the gardening? To dinner? We don’t know.

We find it a little bizarre. But not nearly as bizarre as the fact they continue to deny any recognition to the man who actually created the Race for Life, a man they unethically and hypocritically continue to ignore while making up a range of tales about the Race for Life’s origins, none of which are true.

You can read the true story here.

In the meantime, we used their ‘back sign’ to create a little reminder for them. Feel free to share it, only not on your back (unless you really want to). We feel on your social media and on their social media might be more appropriate and a little less bizarre.

In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.