Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2 and humanitarian activist speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on April 12, 2016, in Washington, DC. The hearing was on the causes and consequences of violent extremism and the role of foreign assistance. / AFP PHOTO / Mike Theiler
Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2 and humanitarian activist speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on April 12, 2016, in Washington, DC. The hearing was on the causes and consequences of violent extremism and the role of foreign assistance. / AFP PHOTO / Mike Theiler

Bono ‘furious’ over charity bullying claims

U2 rocker Bono has apologised for the "toxic" work environment at his charity's Johannesburg, South Africa, offices, where workers had been allegedly harassed and humiliated for years.

"We are all deeply sorry. I hate bullying, can't stand it," Bono reportedly told the Mail on Sunday after it published an account of allegations against The One Campaign, which the singer founded in 2004 with Kennedy clan member Bobby Shriver.

Complaints from The One office include one from a married female worker who said she was pressured to sleep with an elderly Tanzanian politician and when she didn't, was demoted to receptionist and had her salary slashed, the site reported, according to Page Six.

‘We are all deeply sorry’. U2 singer Bono has spoken out about the ‘toxic’ culture at his charity, The One Campaign. Picture: AFP
‘We are all deeply sorry’. U2 singer Bono has spoken out about the ‘toxic’ culture at his charity, The One Campaign. Picture: AFP

The mission and name of the charity - created with the intent of lessening poverty and preventable diseases, especially in Africa - began being tainted in November when employees first came forward with claims of abuse and bullying.

CEO Gayle Smith, who joined the company a year ago, admitted in a letter Friday there was an "institutional failure" between 2011 and 2015.

Examples of abuse included name-calling and forced labour, with one manager said to have forced junior staffers to clean her house.

Smith said another staff member complained about a manager who made "sexist and suggestive comments" about her to a government official from a different country and demoted her for not sleeping with the official.

Bono is ‘reeling’ over the claims. Picture: AFP
Bono is ‘reeling’ over the claims. Picture: AFP

Smith would not confirm if the official was from Tanzania.

"The overall evidence from our investigation was sufficient for me to conclude that we needed to own an institutional failure and ensure that our organisation has in place the systems, policies and practices needed so that this never happens again," she wrote in the letter.

One released the statement after learning several employees were planning to sue over the allegations.

Bono said he was "reeling and furious" when he learned of the abuse and hopes to meet the victims in person.

"My team and I heard concerns about low morale and poor management in this office but nothing along the lines of what emerged recently. I was assured that those concerns were being dealt with - clearly, they were not," he said.

"The head office failed to protect those employees and I need to take some responsibility for that."

This article has been edited and republished from the New York Post with permission.


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