Andrew Gilligan has a big story in the Times today – big as in both important and information-rich (aka long).

A charity dealing with abuse survivors and promoting gay sexual health faces claims of sexual misconduct in the first recent charity sex scandal where the alleged victims are in the UK.

Leeds city council said it has referred two complaints about the Yorkshire-based organisation Men who Enjoy Sex With Men — Action in the Community (Yorkshire Mesmac) to police.

The Charity Commission also said it was in “ongoing engagement” with Mesmac, which has received more than £5m from councils, government and the police. The commission said it had “serious concern” after one of Mesmac’s former trustees was jailed for child sex offences committed during his time in post, including paying a boy, 15, for sex.

Brian Mynott, a Yorkshire-based therapist who works with abused young men, said he had spoken to a further three people, all victims of child abuse, who claimed to have been sexually harassed or asked for sex by Mesmac staff when they went to the charity for help. “They told me it was a pick-up joint and they did not want anything to do with it,” he said.

The kicker? This isn’t just employees breaking the rules – this is Mesmac policy.

The Sunday Times revealed in October that Mesmac explicitly allowed its staff to have sex with people they met through work, many of them young and vulnerable. In its official policy the charity stated that “sexual relationships are acceptable with service users initially met during work time”, although it added that intercourse “would be inappropriate if the service user has entered into a 1-2-1 or ongoing support relationship with the worker” and that sex with children was not allowed.

Mesmac dropped the policy after it was exposed but insisted that it had “never been made aware” of any case where a staff member had had sex with a client. However, The Sunday Times has established that in 2009 Mesmac’s then chairman, Brendon Fletcher, its treasurer, Paul Tidd, and another trustee, Richard Watts, had resigned in protest at the sex-with-clients policy and Mesmac managers’ refusal to change it.

The priests at least pretended it wasn’t policy.

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