Charity denies ditching British Gas criticism to curry favour

Save The Children has strongly denied claims it dropped plans to criticise two UK energy suppliers to try and win their fundraising support. The prominent British children’s charity which operates […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Save The Children has strongly denied claims it dropped plans to criticise two UK energy suppliers to try and win their fundraising support.

The prominent British children’s charity which operates in more than 35 countries has shut down the claims it changed or “spiked” press releases to curry favour with British Gas and EDF Energy.

The allegations were made in a BBC Panorama investigation aired last night and by a former employee in a newspaper article yesterday.

Dominic Nutt, former head of press at Save the Children wrote in The Independent: “When British Gas put their prices up, our policy colleagues asked us to send out a press release condemning them…

“But the release was spiked because, I was told, it would upset British Gas who were Save the Children donors. The quest for money is beginning to destroy the mission.”

The charity said the allegations are “categorically untrue”. Justin Forsyth, Save the Children CEO said: “It is simply wrong and misleading to suggest our silence can be bought. We will continue to campaign on all the areas we think matter most to saving children’s lives both at home and abroad.”

British Gas also denied the claims. A spokesperson said: “We worked with Save the Children to help families and children living in poverty between 2002 and 2010. At no point during our partnership with Save the Children did we ever influence or interfere in their campaigning activities or restrict what they could say publicly about the energy industry.”

It is alleged Save The Children dropped a fuel poverty campaign when the charity was in the running to be EDF Energy’s official charity this year. The charity has also denied this, pointing to a campaign about fuel poverty last year.

When asked by ELN, a spokesperson for the supplier said it “absolutely would not” pressure a charity to drop criticism. In a statement the firm said it chose Marie Curie Cancer Care after more than 7,000 employees voted, adding: “At no point in the process did EDF Energy suggest in any way that Save the Children should modify its campaigning position in order to increase its chances of selection.”