Thank you for the response dated [insert date] in which you emphasise that due diligence has been observed in reaching your decision that JCB is indeed a suitable donor for the NSPCC. We find it difficult to accept that the steps you have taken are adequate for the Board and Trustees to reach a fully informed conclusion. Indeed, the evidence you offer suggests very strongly that you have not considered all the material available to you, but rather examined only that which is supportive of JCB, possibly provided by the company. Indeed, you have effectively ignored the authority of the United Nations and misrepresented the findings of the National Contact Point.
Thus, if what is reported in your letter is the sum total of what you have shown to the Board and Trustees to help them form their opinion, then it is clear that those decision-making bodies were not in full possession of all relevant facts. We therefore request a reconsideration of the matter and a reply which is signed by the CEO and Chair of Trustees, the guardians of the charity’s ethical standards, accepting responsibility for the position adopted on JCB as an accurate reflection of the considered stance of the organisation.
For clarity, we will use subheadings to address your points and we ask you to pass these comments to the Trustees for reconsideration.
Charity Commission Guidelines:
You say that you follow Charity Commission guidance “extremely closely to produce ethical corporate fundraising guidelines that reflect our values.” As we all know, the Charity Commission expects charities’ Trustees and Boards to devise exactly how to apply the broad guidance the Commission offers. Thus, it is the NSPCC which determines the precise fundraising principles, the list of characteristics it approves in its donors and the list of proscribed actions which would mean automatic exclusion from partnership.
As we have said from the very beginning of our correspondence, the list of prohibitions NSPCC has chosen to adopt sets a very low moral and ethical benchmark. No charity could possibly work with those involved in slavery, human trafficking, child labour or the commission of sexual offences. We expect more demanding principles from an eminent children’s charity.
We do not see how a company whose reputation is so compromised can possibly be considered by you to be a suitable partner. We respectfully remind you of the exact advice given by the Commission:
- Have any public concerns been raised about the donors or their activities? If so, what was the nature of the concerns and how long ago were they raised? Did the police or a regulator investigate the concerns? What was the outcome?
- Would any adverse publicity about the donor have a damaging effect on the charity?
Such public concerns, by significant public bodies have indeed been raised, posing a real reputational risk to the NSPCC, as shown below.
Public Concerns Related to JCB:
1 Concerns raised by the United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
You refer to this in just a few lines, effectively brushing aside the major significance of JCB’s inclusion in the UN list of companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine. JCB is one of only three UK companies listed. This listing was not casually drawn up by the High Commissioner – indeed, the United Nations is the most significant worldwide Human Rights forum.
You say JCB has asked to be removed from this United Nations list. Obviously, this request has been denied, and JCB remains clearly named by the United Nations in this shameful list, a fact you gloss over. We assume it was JCB who told you that they had asked to be removed from the list; it is somewhat shocking that the reporting of their failed request was enough to allay your ethical concerns about your wealthy donor.
What JCB may not have told you is that the company was only placed on the UN Database after first having been given the opportunity to provide a response and a rationale for not being so included. OHCHR will have diligently considered the company’s objections to being included, and only then applied a strict methodology before listing companies whose objections to inclusion failed scrutiny. Clearly JCB was unable to convince the United Nations Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of its innocence.
Thus, On 28 February 2020, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights listed JCB, citing a “substantial and material” involvement in settlement activities, finding that “the violations of human rights associated with settlements are devastating and pervasive, reaching every facet of Palestinian life.”
It is disappointing, to say the least, that you so hungrily accepted JCB’s rather weak defence of itself, which has in no way changed the fact that it has been strongly criticised by the leading world body on Human Rights.
2 Concerns raised by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights within the OECD framework, overseen by the National Contact Point (NCP):
You state that the NCP has decided that “the claims related to JCB contributing to abuses of human rights does (sic) not merit further scrutiny.” You add a quotation directly drawn from JCB’s defence, but noticeably omit any of the evidenced alleg ations made by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR).
What you also fail to include is the full conclusion of the NCP. As is shown in the report of the NCP, that body “has decided to accept the complaint for further examination on the issues related to JCB’s obligation under Chapter 4, Paragraphs 3,4, and 5.” It is only the elements related to the human rights responsibilities listed by the OECD in Chapter 4, paragraphs 1 and 2 that the NCP decided not to accept in its initial assessment.
So, a substantial part of the complaint is live and progressing. For your reference, these are the relevant issues where the NCP accepts the complaint against JCB for further consideration: companies are expected to…
3. Seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business operations, products or services by a business relationship, even if they do not contribute to those impacts.
4. Have a policy commitment to respect human rights.
5. Carry out human rights due diligence as appropriate to their size, the nature and context of operations and the severity of the risks of adverse human rights impacts”
We understand that JCB claims that it has no control over products once they are sold to Comasco – this too is being challenged by LPHR
Thus, far from being dismissed, as you imply in your response, the evidence-based complaint by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights is going forward. The complaint demonstrates that JCB is failing to take the actions needed to identify, prevent, mitigate and address the use of its heavy machinery products in demolitions and settlement construction that violate the human rights of Palestinians. The use of JCB's machinery in these linked activities is material and prolific.
The NCP Initial Assessment decision also reveals that JCB accepts that the evidence submitted does indeed show its machinery being used to demolish homes and other structures. There is much incontrovertible photographic and film evidence of the damage JCB machinery wreaks. The Initial Assessment also reveals that JCB is currently silent on the use of its products in illegal settlement-related construction; all settlements are illegal under International Law, as you know.
So, as you can see, the consideration being given by the NCP to this case is far from over.
In conclusion: JCB is by no means off the hook.
The NCP process is far from over; you are misinformed. JCB is still on a list of shame drawn up by the United Nations, after rigorous consideration of the company’s objections. There are photographs and videos galore showing the appalling destruction that JCB equipment causes. All the company seems to say is “If we don’t provide the bulldozers, someone else will”, the sort of argument that those who deal in drugs, human trafficking, modern day slavery or child labour might also advance - scarcely a moral position. But, to our surprise, it seems to satisfy the NSPCC.
However, this argument fails the test of public opinion, as you are seeing as more and more people learn, to their horror, how the NSPCC continues to accept JCB as a partner. Your chosen partnership with JCB, lucrative as it may be, poses a real reputational risk to the charity, and sadly speaks volumes about NSPCC “values.”
We urge your Trustees to look at ALL the evidence and sever this relationship, unless and until JCB ceases to facilitate destruction in Palestine. You perhaps can use your influence and good offices to this constructive end.
As it stands, JCB is not in harmony with the NSPCC value that “every childhood” matters and all the millions they give you cannot change that sad fact.
We look forward to the reply from the CEO and Chair of Trustees, addressing the evidence of the United Nations, the National Contact Point’s investigation to date, the case details provided by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights and the wealth of authoritative documentation revealing the massive harm, the human suffering and destruction of homes, caused by JCB’s refusal to accept its human rights responsibilities vis a vis its business relationships.