Good governance - a statement from CEO James Cowan

The HALO Trust announced in August of last year that our long standing CEO had resigned from his role as Chief Executive.

The Board took the steps needed to ensure the organisation is well placed to meet new challenges and to learn from the lessons of the past. This included a review of our governance arrangements. We conducted an organisational review and put in place initiatives to strengthen our internal processes, underlining our commitment to become even more efficient and effective, ensuring that we continue to attract and retain the highest quality staff, and to allow us to build a solid foundation for future growth.

We could have turned to an external team to conduct the reviews, but, for the sake of speed and to keep costs down, we looked to our trustees who know the organisation inside out,  to get on and make the necessary changes.

Amanda Pullinger, who became Chairman of The HALO Trust Board in May 2014 conducted the governance review with Simon Conway who was also appointed as the full-time Executive Trustee and tasked with ensuring the effective and safe day to day management of the organisation. Both Amanda and Simon received payment for this work, which was entirely appropriate, and ensured that the Trust continued to operate effectively during these difficult months.

The payments were agreed by the Board and signed off by the Charity Commission and, despite suggestions in the media, this decision has never been called into question. Amanda received no payments after the review ended in October 2014, when she reverted to being an unpaid Trustee. What’s more, she has donated $15,000 to HALO since becoming a Trustee and intends to give more by the end of the financial year; this means she will have donated to HALO more than she was paid post-tax. Upon my appointment as CEO, Simon stepped down from the Board and assumed his current role as Director of Strategy at the appropriate level of remuneration.

As a global organisation we are lucky enough to have the support of individuals around the world. They recognise, support and champion the life saving work that The HALO Trust has been carrying out across four continents for the last quarter of a century. Some of these individuals, such as Angelina Jolie, are high profile and the demands on their time are significant. Ms Jolie stood down as a trustee of HALO in May of last year but she remains a supporter of The HALO Trust and our mission to rid the world of landmines.

As a charity we are always mindful of the need to spend the money that we receive wisely. This is the guiding principle of our Board. Recent attention has focused on our governance and payments to trustees. We are confident that the decisions taken to improve the governance of the organisation during the course of the last year were the right ones and worth every penny. These decisions were made in the interest of ensuring that we can continue to deliver the life saving work that has enabled countless men, women and children to return to their homes without fear of death or injury from landmines or any other deadly debris of war.

Thanks to our supporters and our dedicated team of staff we are better placed than ever to deliver our work. As the global threat from landmines recedes, we are using our expertise to address other urgent issues including pioneering new techniques to reduce the casualties caused by unexploded ordnance and to counter the growing threat posed to civilians by badly secured, ageing and unstable ammunition.