Review into Falkirk’s Open Secret given green light

The independent review into Open Secret was rubber-stamped by Falkirk Council this week
The independent review into Open Secret was rubber-stamped by Falkirk Council this week

Falkirk Council has praised a charity which supports victims of child abuse but insists an independent review into its practices is necessary.

The council’s social work department was given the go-ahead on Tuesday to commission an independent review by a consultancy firm into Falkirk’s Open Secret.

The investigation was sparked in June after a grievance was raised by Open Secret staff and a service user alleging bullying, financial mismanagement, concerns about how the charity is governed and how clients are treated.

Concern was also raised about Open Secret’s former chairman Bruce Hotchkies, a member of a shock rock group called Thunderf**k, whose lyrics include violence against women. He stepped down from the role last week.

The council, Open Secret’s core funder, recently cut £60,000 from its budget claiming this money is used to help people from areas outwith Falkirk and says it is concerned over conflicting information from the charity.

Open secret chief executive Janine Rennie is welcoming the review, saying it gives the charity an opportunity to clear its name. She maintains complaints are unfounded and form an agenda by disgruntled staff to oust the current board.

Director of social work Margaret Anderson said: “We have a long-standing commitment to Open Secret and want this to continue. There is no agenda except us ensuring that service users get the best service possible.

“The concerns raised with us are much broader than has been made public so far, but we would rather not make these specific as we don’t want to unnecessarily tarnish the good reputation Open Secret has built up and potentially affect service users in an adverse way, or unsettle staff.

“We will be looking to do a robust review which will be independent and proportionate. It could be an opportunity for the organisation to improve its service and deliver a sustainable footing for the future.”

Mrs Rennie said: “Our problems started when the council cut our funding and we introduced a new performance system for staff, which some objected to. We are fully behind the review and I am perfectly confident we will show that we are run in the right manner. I’ve said from day one I’m happy for the council to look at our books.”