Charity boss at centre of royal race row steps down over abuse

Ngozi Fulani says she has temporarily resigned as chief executive of Sistah Space, claiming palace failed to support her after incident

The charity boss at the centre of a royal race row has stepped down over the backlash she received, claiming Buckingham Palace failed to support her after the incident.

Ngozi Fulani said she had temporarily resigned as chief executive of Sistah Space, the domestic violence charity she founded, as she criticised the palace for not tackling the abuse she received.

Fulani expressed her shock publicly in November after the late Queen’s lady-in-waiting Susan Hussey repeatedly asked the black charity executive where she “really came from” at a palace reception highlighting violence against women.

Lady Hussey, 83, godmother to the Prince of Wales, immediately stepped down from her honorary role, and later apologised in person to Fulani during a meeting at Buckingham Palace in December, said to have been “filled with warmth and understanding”, with a photograph released of the two women together.

But, speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB), Fulani said: “We, the Sistah Space charity, has suffered as a result, direct result. When you think that this was supposed to be for violence against women and girls, because of this incident the violence has been directed to me. The palace hasn’t intervened; I think they could have.

“So what I’ve had to do, I’ve now temporarily stepped down as CEO of Sistah Space. I’m announcing that now because the service users and the community can’t access us properly.

“This whole thing has cost us a fortune because we had to pay our own PR to stop the press from coming up. It was horrible.”

Buckingham Palace reiterated its original apology when approached by GMB. The presenter Richard Madeley said the palace had said: “For the avoidance of any doubt, we are deeply sorry for the incident that took place and apologise for the distress and difficulty it caused to Ms Fulani.”

Fulani told him: “Who are they apologising to? If you’re sorry, tell me you’re sorry, if you’re not … It speaks for itself.” She added: “If you have to ask someone for an apology, it is not an apology.”

In response to Fulani’s assertions, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “In the aftermath of the incident that took place at a reception last November, the palace made clear the comments made by Lady Susan were deeply regrettable.

“Lady Susan immediately expressed her sincere apologies, and stepped aside from her honorary role. These apologies were reiterated in person at a meeting in December, filled with warmth and understanding.

“At the conclusion of this meeting, a joint statement was issued, in full agreement with Ms Fulani, in which these apologies were accepted, and it was recognised that no malice had been intended by Lady Susan.

“In that statement, a number of pledges were made by the palace which have all been honoured – including enhancing diversity and inclusivity programmes. It was also agreed that no further media comment would be made.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, we are sorry for the incident that took place and apologise for the distress and difficulty it caused to Ms Fulani.”

It is understood that after the reconciliation meeting with Hussey the palace received a message of thanks from Sistah Space for support Fulani and the charity had received, which is understood to have included assisting her with security concerns, and with handling some of the abuse she had received on social media and elsewhere.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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