Sir Alan Parker resigned yesterday as chairman of Save the Children International, after allegations that he failed to handle complaints of sexual harassment among staff. At least two former female employees might fairly ask what took so long? But it’s not just Sir Alan who faces questions. Where is Helle Thorning-Schmidt, right, the former Danish Prime Minister and CEO of Save the Children International?
In recent months, she has cancelled long-agreed high-profile interviews. When I asked for her availability last month, a representative told me it was “looking unlikely in the near future”. While she did release statements in response to the scandal that broke in February, she has not mentioned allegations of improper behaviour on her social media.
Last night Sir Alan, left, announced his resignation after his conduct was called into question in February. Alexia Pepper de Caires wrote an open letter to Save the Children UK CEO Kevin Watkins, stating that she was “one of many women who suffered.”
Thorning-Schmidt last night paid tribute to Parker’s “extensive knowledge and energy.” This is despite her previously strong stance on bad behaviour in the workplace, particularly bullying, saying “I strongly believe that working together in groups of people we can change things.”
The pair are close friends — Parker is thought to have introduced Thorning-Schmidt to Save The Children — and she was at Parker’s summer party at the Chelsea Physic Garden last year. Thorning-Schmidt is married to Stephen Kinnock, Labour MP for Aberavon and the son of former Labour Party leader Neil. She served as the Danish Prime Minister between 2011 and 2015.
But she has not retired from public life. Perhaps she still has one eye on retaking her crown — or even becoming European Commissioner. Save the Children say "It’s not true to say that she has been very quiet on this issue, which she feels passionately about. She has made statements at a few points recently, including her quotes in yesterday’s Save the Children International statement."
Lambeth labours over residents’ tax
Two weeks to go until the local council elections and political trickery is afoot. Labour-run Lambeth council has issued a letter to residents describing the “huge funding cuts year on year since 2010… with police numbers falling dramatically and the NHS under major pressure”. Oddly this isn’t a leaflet on behalf of the Labour party but a reminder for residents to pay their council tax. It might be a bit easier to swallow if this political posturing in the guise of services didn’t also happen to be paid for by those same taxes.
Nick Timothy got a thumping yesterday from the New Statesman for his Telegraph column. He’d claimed that the infamous “Go Home” anti-immigration vans were approved when Theresa May, his former boss, was on holiday. Now he tells me he’s “done with politics” — does this mean the end of his column?
Index on Censorship’s annual Freedom of Expression Awards last night drew journalists to the May Fair Hotel. David Aaronovitch chatted to Jonathan Dimbleby and AC Grayling, and Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg assured guests that the venue was a donation: “We promise we’re not spending your money on prosecco and chandeliers.”
Sisterhood gathers to hit the high notes at the ENO
Women get a bum deal in opera: most don’t survive to the end and those who do rarely get their happily ever after. So there was some restitution last night at the ENO Gala, which specifically celebrated women in opera. Stars Emma Bell, Susan Bullock and Lesley Garrett all performed at the dinner, held at the sun-drenched Gibson Hall in Bishopsgate.
It was good to see Radio 4’s Melvyn Bragg up and about after a hip operation, and there was a large Labour contingent: MPs Margaret Hodge and Harriet Harman were there, as well as Cherie Blair. No sign of Tony, though.
Anna Friel, the star of Marcella, matched her dress to their politics. Friel plays a detective in the ITV drama, and has won an Emmy for her performance. We say she deserves it — she was frequently injured during the making of the programme, becoming concussed after falling onto her co-star’s chest. She also broke a finger nail. Oh the drama.
DIANE Abbott paid a Tory PM a rare compliment this week. Not Theresa May, though. “When I first joined the Labour Party, you couldn’t win a vote in a party meeting or conference on LGBTQ+ rights,” she said at a launch for the first LGBTQ+ community centre. “And I’ve lived to see a Tory prime minister take through equal marriage.” The PM in question was David Cameron.
The Sun’s Tom Newton Dunn yesterday saw a “a big chunk of masonry” fall off Parliament’s Victoria Tower onto a path by the Black Rod entrance. “Another close escape,” he said. Time for hard hats, surely.
Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, posed with John Major this week. Major, now a staunch anti-Brexiteer, famously referred to his eurosceptic Tory colleagues as “bastards”. While Rosindell once said “these ‘Remoaners’, as I call them, cannot accept the decision of the British public.” Forced smiles all round, then.
Erdem talks himself off the wedding list
A HINT that one of the designers who was hotly tipped to be making Meghan Markle’s wedding dress is out of the running. Erdem Moralıoğlu, the Turkish-Canadian designer loved by stars such as Keira Knightley and Alexa Chung, was thought to be one of the frontrunners. But now he has signed up to speak at the V&A on Friday May 18, the night before the royal wedding. This would suggest that he will not be available for last-minute tweaks down in Windsor.
Anyone got Stella McCartney’s diary to hand?
Livia Firth, above centre, has the world in her hands: last night she, Arizona Muse, left, and June Sarpong, right, attended an Eco Age party at the London Edition.
Quote of the day
‘Somewhere among biryani, poutine and endless conversations, I realised how deeply Meghan Markle cares for the world’
Priyanka Chopra explains that her love for her friend — and soon-to-beprincess — started with food