Forces charity faces closure as tribunal threat looms

Bobby and Jem Wright meet The Queen

Bobby and Jem Wright meet The Queen

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A CHARITY set up to help military veterans has been rocked by in-fighting which has put it at fresh risk of closure.

Directors of The Mark Wright Project have written to veterans who use the centre to say they face new financial struggles as a result of an employment tribunal being brought by a former member of staff who resigned, and fear they cannot afford the legal fees involved.

Mark Wright

Mark Wright

However, founder Bob Wright, who set up the charity with wife Jem in memory of their son, Corporal Mark Wright, said he hoped the charity would continue to offer social and emotional support to veterans at its Dalkeith centre.

In January of this year, Mr Wright said that he was considering selling his son’s medals to help fund the centre because it was so strapped for cash.

In a letter to users of the charity sent out yesterday, the recently-elected board of directors said they feared the tribunal could sink the charity.

“It would cost us around £20,000 to prepare and present our case at Tribunal,” they wrote. “Even if she were fortunate enough to win a small sum it would devastate our finances. If we won and she lost it would be unlikely we would be able to recover any costs.”

A second employee, who was sacked earlier this year, is believed to have settled out of court for £6500 rather than seeking a tribunal, adding to financial pressure on the charity.

However, around 20 people, including veterans and their friends and family, signed a letter of no confidence in the previous board of directors, proclaiming their support for the member of staff currently seeking tribunal.

The letter said that the atmosphere at the centre had become unbearably strained and that this was having a negative effect on the people the charity aimed to help.

The letter also said that Mr Wright had behaved aggressively at the centre, an allegation he denied, although he admitted having raised his voice on discovering that rumours about his marriage were circulating in the centre.

One former director, Fiona MacDonald, said she supported the concerns of the group behind the letter and had herself stepped down at the end of August because she was worried about the charity placing more emphasis on helping veterans into work than its original role as a drop-in social centre.

Mr Wright said the letter of concern had only been signed by a small group of service users out of 200 and that he hoped the charity would overcome its difficulties.

He said: “We’re still open for business and we’re still working. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I think we will get back on our feet.”

sgyford@edinburghnews.com

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