A SWINDON-based helpline at the centre of the Gordon Brown bullying saga last year has folded.

Trustees of the National Bullying Helpline Charity have decided to discontinue the helpline service with immediate effect.

They are now taking steps to close the charity.

Controversy surrounded the helpline, which ran from an office in Dorcan Village, when founder and chief executive Christine Pratt claimed to have received complaints from staff at 10 Downing Street about the behaviour of the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown in February.

A number of the charity’s patrons, including Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, resigned in protest at what they saw as Mrs Pratt’s breach of her duty of confidentiality.

The charity, founded in 2007, provided a free service to the public and by 2010 calls to the charity had trebled.

The decision to close comes because of a lack of funding and the resignation of Mrs Pratt.

Increased workload and trying to secure funding for the charity had taken its toll on her health over the last year, a spokesman said.

A statement from the trustees said: “This last year, calls to our helpline have trebled and we have had to take on additional volunteers and resources to meet demand.

“Without doubt, this demonstrates that a free anti-bullying helpline is a much needed and much valued lifeline for the general public – adults and children alike.

“We believe there is no other UK bullying helpline today, quite like the National Bullying Helpline, providing assistance to both adults and children who are affected by anti-social behaviour in the community, the home, the workplace and/or the playground.”

“Undoubtedly, the closure of our charity will be a great loss to the public.”

Volunteers at the offices in Swindon have been told that the helpline will no longer operate.

The National Bullying Helpline website will remain in place as a resource for those who want information and guidance for combating bullying as it contains practical advice and downloadable material.

Mrs Pratt yesterday refused to comment on closure of the charity she founded.

Log on to www.national bullyinghelpline.co.uk for more information about coping with bullying.