British-American Project in Spat over Hardeep Singh Kohli Appointment

The elite British-American Project has found itself in a civil conflict following the appointment of Hardeep Singh Kohli.

Hardeep Singh Kohli charged with Sex Offence Allegations f

“We are all shocked by the charges against Mr Kohli"

The British-American Project’s (BAP) gentility has been upended by a civil war over the appointment of Hardeep Singh Kohli.

It was founded as an elite society to foster transatlantic relations.

Some members are furious that Mr Kohli was voted onto the committee in 2022 despite well-publicised allegations against him.

Some of BAP’s 1,500 members have accused the organisation of prioritising diversity over propriety.

Its chairman has had to apologise for being “slow and hesitant” to get a grip of the problem after two committee members resigned.

They have also complained that members were kept in the dark about the fact that Mr Kohli was in a relationship with the society’s UK project director Jo Lindley.

In August 2023, Hardeep Singh Kohli was arrested and charged with what Police Scotland described as “non-recent” sexual offences.

Despite resigning from the committee of the BAP in July 2023, Mr Kohli remains a fellow and has not been suspended.

An internal conflict has become so heated that its advisory board has issued a plea to fellows to “depersonalise the debate” while also urging them to keep the issue private, saying it would be “destructive” to the BAP if the row “were to spill out in public”.

On October 19, 2022, Hardeep Singh Kohli was voted onto the committee by a BAP board.

Michael Smeeth, the BAP’s current chairman who was treasurer at the time, said in a letter to fellows that Mr Kohli had been recommended for a place on the committee by two other fellows “who felt the EC [executive committee] needed greater representation by Fellows of Colour”.

He was voted onto the committee despite concerns being raised by Martin Vander Weyer, the financial journalist who is joint chairman of the BAP advisory board.

Sexual harassment allegations against Mr Kohli first came to light in 2020 when fellow comedian Lulu Popplewell said Mr Kohli had offered to help with her career if she slept with him.

Other women said he made similar advances and groped a woman’s breasts.

At the time, Mr Kohli apologised for his behaviour and said:

“It is now clear to me that my actions and words made women feel intimidated, undermined and undervalued.”

After being appointed to the BAP committee, two female members resigned, with one saying Mr Kohli’s appointment was the main reason.

In August 2023, a further two members resigned.

A letter to fellows signed by “The Black Ladies of BAP” said that it was “disconcerting to learn that an inmate relationship between the Project Director and HSK, was not treated as a disqualifying factor in the process to appoint new EC members… moreover, the fact that this relationship was only disclosed to the Chair and not disclosed to the rest of the EC raises concerns about transparency and accountability”.

A BAP spokesperson said Mr Kohli’s relationship with Ms Lindley was common knowledge among fellows and there was no conflict of interest because she had no role or vote in the appointment of committee members.

The spokesperson said: “We are all shocked by the charges against Mr Kohli, which fly in the face of our shared values and have already taken steps to restrict his involvement in our fellowship.

“We are actively monitoring the judicial process and will consider what further action to take – including our first potential formal expulsion of a fellow – when we know the Procurator Fiscal’s verdict.

“Mr Kohli was elected unopposed to our board in 2022, which has proved to be unfortunate in many ways.

“As a result, the organisation is now tightening up a range of governance measures to ensure similar issues do not arise again.”

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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