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To share the contents of a "confidential" email?

(35 Posts)
LibidinousTurkey Tue 26-Jan-16 18:56:43

I've recently taken over as leader of a voluntary group. This is a new thing for me and I'm currently in the process of handover so there's quite a lot up in the air.
So today I received a fucking horrible pointed email criticising one of our long standing members, amongst other total tosh concerns. This was addressed personally to me and labelled as confidential.

Now I'm unsure of the etiquette involved here. The allegations are unfair and (in my eyes) unfounded. They could potentially lead to the member in question being driven out after many years of tireless work.

At the moment I'm sat uneasily on the information but would have no qualms at all about attributing all the points raised to the sender. I'm not about to spill the beans to anyone at the moment but should the time come, WIBU to share this information? Or should the addition of the word "confidential" allow the sender to say whatever the hell they like?

user7755 Tue 26-Jan-16 19:09:00

What is the sender hoping to get out of this?

Not been in this situation in relation to a voluntary group but have dealt with similar things through work.

You may need to investigate the accusations, if the sender doesn't want the accusations investigating then I would question the motivation to them and discuss with them how they felt they could maintain their contact with the group in light of the opinions they had expressed.

quietbatperson Tue 26-Jan-16 19:09:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Tue 26-Jan-16 19:10:43

If it is a safeguarding issue you are obliged to refer it.

insancerre Tue 26-Jan-16 19:13:43

is this not a form of bullying and harassment?
you cant accuse people of things and not let them have a chance to put their side across
i would share it with somebody because then it doesn't just become your problem, its a shared problem
and it doesnt matter if it says confidential,

Lolimax Tue 26-Jan-16 19:14:08

If you're a fully constituted voluntary group you might have an albeit voluntary code of conduct. Alternatively you could contact your local county voluntary council for some support.

insancerre Tue 26-Jan-16 19:15:39

its not concerning children is it?
if it is sfaeguarding then you have to follow your policy and report it to whoever you report it to

Primaryteach87 Tue 26-Jan-16 19:19:00

Presuming it doesn't involve children, vulnerable people or something illegal. I would write back saying you've considered their comments but have decided they are unfounded and that you will be forced to tackle their nastiness as potential bullying if they choose to spread this gossip. If it IS one of the aforementioned things, you need to take it more seriously.

theycallmemellojello Tue 26-Jan-16 19:30:42

Share away IMO. No reason to keep it confidential. I guess if she has admitted simething personal and private then redact that.

DoreenLethal Tue 26-Jan-16 19:37:53

You have to follow your policies and procedures.

Have you got policies and procedures?

Is it a complaint or a grievance?

Imissmy0ldusername Tue 26-Jan-16 19:47:25

We have a member of our voluntary group who would have no qualms about sending a similar message. It's only when members of the group who have had a bit more experience of this particular individual can explain what's been going on that it makes a bit more sense. If a new person who is in charge had come in "cold", as it were, they would have done exactly the same thing. The thing I'm involved in involves nothing to do with children, or vulnerable people. It's about keeping our block of flats a happy place to live. Which is why I'm only sharing experience rather than giving advice.
Good luck.

RatherBeRiding Tue 26-Jan-16 19:48:36

I agree with Primary in that if these appear to be unfounded allegations you are under no obligation to do anything. Although in your shoes I would respond to the sender asking what evidence they can provide to back up these allegations, and informing them that I was going to ask the person being complained about for their version of events.

Obviously if the allegations involve children/vulnerable people/criminality you would have to investigate further.

LibidinousTurkey Tue 26-Jan-16 19:50:04

Not involving safeguarding or anything like that thank god

As I said I have no qualms about showing what a horrible piece of shit the sender is. I shall sit on my hands for now until necessary <dignified>

ItchyArmpits Tue 26-Jan-16 19:50:37

Who would you share the email with, and to what purpose?

BillSykesDog Tue 26-Jan-16 19:53:06

Have you done anything to follow up the concerns? You say that they are not true 'in my eyes' which suggests that in someone else's they could be.

I would tread carefully with this. You obviously like the person who has been criticised, but as the leader you are not making decisions based on who you are friends with, but should treat the whole group equally. You're not going to look good to the rest of the group if they believe you treat your friends favourably. Other group members may also feel extremely uncomfortable in the group if they feel that if they report things in good faith it could be used against them at a later date.

You're quite within your rights to tell the sender that you've investigated the matter, found it baseless and closed it, and that if they're unhappy with that they are free to stop attending. But if you want to keep the trust and respect of your group members you have to treat things they tell you in confidence as exactly that. Otherwise your other members will distrust you too.

ShmooBooMoo Tue 26-Jan-16 19:58:11

Could you reply that unfounded criticisms will be disregarded unless the nasty bugger would like to go public with their claims?

IguanaTail Tue 26-Jan-16 20:00:44

It depends on the nature of the allegations really. If it's pathetic petty crap then could you ignore it and see if she comes back to you?

CandOdad Tue 26-Jan-16 20:13:53

Could I say, as someone that has had potentially earth shattering allegations made about me to the Police by an individual after telling lies to a committee to sell her version of a story. That you must follow procedures or indeed work to what you think is best. Only involve those that need to be involved while investiging it and then pass to the relevant authorities. If you don't follow it up then you are in the wrong.

I say this though as a person who had no case to answer and now the group concerned think that ignoring what happened and the slander made against me is the best course of action.

I am currently two steps from a civil action against them.

abbsismyhero Tue 26-Jan-16 20:14:06

is it likely to affect the group i mean is the group to do with children and they have been accused of child sex offences for example or is it they stole my husband type of thing?

AcrossthePond55 Tue 26-Jan-16 20:14:44

If it was addressed to you only I'd probably just sit on it. It was nasty but if it's just someone slagging another person off and you know it's baseless, then it need go no further. To reply would be to escalate the problem, imo.

But if it was cc'd to anyone and/or you know for certain that the sender is stirring up shit about this member to others then I'd probably respond as BillSykes suggests.

scarlets Tue 26-Jan-16 20:18:31

If you're certain that it's baseless, then respond to the sender in that vein.

abbsismyhero Tue 26-Jan-16 20:19:29

putting confidential on a piece of paper is not legally binding unless you're a doctor or solicitor is it? i might be wrong but im not sure its enforceable so you could share if you wanted to?

CandOdad Tue 26-Jan-16 20:24:10

They could potentially lead to the member in question being driven out after many years of tireless work.

Just to add. They could only have this consequence if you dealt with it wrongly or the accusations ended up being true.

DinoSnores Tue 26-Jan-16 20:37:11

I think I would reply asking what they wanted as the outcome of having sent the email, saying you are unwilling and unable to deal with the accusations properly if you are not able to discuss them properly with the person accused or the person accusing. You have no such concerns yourself, and, unless the writer gets back to you allowing this to be dealt with openly, you consider the matter closed.

greenfolder Tue 26-Jan-16 20:38:07

I would go back to the sender and ask precisely what outcome she is expecting. Point out that they have marked it confidential but if you are to act, the allegations will have to be put to the person and you will not be in a position to maintain confidentiality. Once you know that you will have a better idea of what you are dealing with

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