Friday Oct 18, 2019
LONDON: Leading British Muslim charity Penny Appeal’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aamer Naeem OBE is at the centre of an explosive bullying and harassment storm following grievances and complains, full of allegations, launched by a number of senior executives.
Sources at the Wakefield based charity have told this reporter that a number of senior members of the charity have launched complaints that Aamer Naeem allegedly presided over campaigns of targeted harassment, including attempts to literally drive people out of the organisation in a bid to cover his own leadership failings.
One of the complaints includes details of how one female member of staff was reduced to tears and humiliation on numerous occasions, said a trusted source at the charity.
Penny Appeal has been in news recently after its founder Adeem Younis was suspended in what some sources have described as an orchestrated coup to take power and control of one of the fastest growing Muslim charities in Britain.
The founder of the charity and serial entrepreneur Adeem Younis was told at the airport, as he landed back at the Heathrow airport from a charity campaign with Pakistani A-lister Mehwish Hayat and Dragons’ Dens star James Caan, that he was subject to a suspension.
Adeem Younis was in Pakistan for ten days on behalf of the Penny Appeal for the charitable projects of the charity near Rawalpindi.
Locks of the charity’s headquarters were changed, IT servers were removed which brought the work of the charity to a standstill for a number of weeks and full time security guards were hired to guard the building to prevent anyone unauthorised from entering the building, trusted sources shared what went on at the heart of the charity as the controversy grew.
This reporter has seen leaked correspondence in which a female employee has accused the CEO and his associates of running an “orchestrated takeover of the organisation in order to protect his own failures ”.
This reporter has spoken to staff who said they were afraid of speaking up as they fear that they will lose their jobs. They have told that the place has become a “hostile environment” where no one dares mention the suspended chair’s name because they are under instructions not to speak to him in any circumstances.
Several staff members have alleged that they are being punished and suffering because of the power struggle going on between Aamer Naeem and Adeem Younis. Both the founder and the CEO deny being involved in power struggle but the senior staff members have shared details of how heated exchanged took place in the run to the suspension of the founder by the CEO.
Further allegations and grievances include staff being denied door security codes as well as access to certain hard drives. Both the CEO and the founder are of Pakistani origin.
A source shared that the suspension of Adeem Younis had been planned for several months. In one of the grievance papers, it has been alleged that Mr Younis was suspended with “ulterior motives”.
Aamer Naeem was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal in the Queen’s 2019 New Year Honours list. Penny Appeal had said at the time that the award has been given for services to “Muslim Community Development”.
Adeem Younis is know as a serial entrepreneur who founded Single Muslim site at a young age and turned it into a big success. It’s claimed that the site has helped to facilitate over 110,000 marriages. In 2018 he won Charity Chair of the Year award at the Third Sector Awards. Earlier this year, he was recognised by then Prime Minister Theresa May for his “exceptional service to the charity sector”.
The Charity Commission has confirmed that it is looking into “potential concerns” after the charity had submitted a “serious incident report”.
This correspondent sent questions to Adeem Younis but he didn’t reply.
Aamer Naeem OBE rejected allegations against him in a statement. He said: “The allegations are categorically false. I have not bullied, harassed or intimidated anyone. I am not part of any coup, power struggle or takeover at Penny Appeal, nor has any alleged coup taken place.
He said he was taking legal steps to protect himself against the defamatory allegations.