Guest post by Philip Grant
As regular “Wembley Matters” readers will know, I have been active in seeking to get the Council to ensure that Brent’s Director of HR faces the consequences of her actions in the Rosemarie Clarke Employment Tribunal case, since the Tribunal judgment was published more than nine months ago. Many of you commented on two blogs posted last week about the announcement that Ms Davani is to leave the Council at the end of June. One of the biggest concerns is that she may be receiving a “pay off” from Brent in return for (finally!) leaving, which might also include Brent “picking up the bill” for any damages and costs awarded against Ms Davani personally in the Rosemarie Clarke case (in which she and Brent are separately named respondents).
I had hoped to get some publicity for our concerns about any such “pay off” through a letter to the editor of the “Brent & Kilburn Times”, but there is no letters page in this week’s (18 June) edition. Worse still, the newspaper has also not included its online article about Ms Davani’s departure in the printed version. Instead, the space that it might have occupied carries a photograph of a smiling Cllr Muhammed Butt, alongside a story about a letter he has written to the Tory Party chairman, complaining about the embarrassment which the feuding rival Conservative groups are causing to Brent.
However, I have raised the issue of possible financial malpractice (as a result of conflicts of interest) in connection with any possible financial arrangements arising from Ms Davani leaving the Council, with the Head of Brent’s Audit and Investigation team. I will “copy and paste” below (for reasons explained in its final paragraph) the text of the covering email which I sent on Wednesday evening with my report and supporting evidence.
The other reason I am writing this “guest blog” is to invite all readers who live in Brent, and who share my concerns, to write to their ward councillors (see the link at the right-hand side of “Wembley Matters” for contact details for local councillors, if you don’t already have them). Tell your councillors (politely but firmly, in your own words, and without abusive language, please) what you think about any possible “pay off” to Cara Davani, and ask them to raise questions about it with senior Council Officers and the Leader of the Council, with a view to ensuring that no such “pay off” is made. You might also wish to copy your email to email@example.com , and to firstname.lastname@example.org , for good measure. Individual messages from local voters, especially if there are a large number of them, can make a difference, so let your councillors know what you think on this matter.
I believe that there is a strong case for Brent not to let Ms Davani’s “friends in high places” give her a leaving gift at the Council’s (that is, our) expense. This is how I set out this belief in the final paragraph of the letter which I hoped would be published this week:
‘It is possible that the total Tribunal awards to Ms Clarke may be in excess of £1 million, quite apart from the Council’s own huge legal costs in fighting the case. The Council will have to pay whatever the Tribunal awards against it as “first respondent”; but funds needed by the Council for providing services (and supporting the jobs of local people who provide them) must not be wasted in making unnecessary and undeserved payments to Ms Davani, or on her behalf. Her actions have already had such a high cost, both financial and reputational, to Brent, quite apart from the harm done to the lives of the victims of her style of managing Human Resources in the borough.’
If you agree, please let the Council, and your councillors, know about it. Thank you.Philip Grant
Text of my email of 17 June 2015 to the Head of Audit and Investigations (which he has acknowledged receipt of):-
Dear Mr Lane,
Possible Financial Malpractice / Irregularity over leaving arrangements for Director of HR
Following the news last week that Cara Davani, Director of HR and Administration, would be leaving the Council at the end of June, there has been great concern locally about a rumoured “pay off” to her. This concern can be seen in many comments on online blog items, for example
and has also been expressed to me privately by several local councillors, who are aware of my interest in the Rosemarie Clarke Employment Tribunal case, which may (finally!) have something to do with Ms Davani’s departure.
Under Brent’s Anti-Fraud and Bribery Policy, your department has a duty to prevent financial malpractice where possible, so that funds are not lost to the Council because of irregularities such as undisclosed conflicts of interest. I believe that any potential payments, or indemnities, which might be given to Ms Davani as part of her leaving arrangements are likely to involve conflicts of interest, and have set out the reasons for this in the attached report and supporting documents.
I would ask that you ensure, as a matter of urgency, that any financial arrangements with Ms Davani, other than the payment of her basic salary up to the end of June 2015, are suspended until the outcome of a proper investigation into the points I have raised.
I will forward a copy of this email to Brent’s Chief Legal Officer, who will need to ensure that certain documents I have referred to are secured, and made available to you, and may also need to take action over some of the points raised in her role as the Council’s Monitoring Officer.
I intend to publish the text of this email, although not any of its attachments, so that its contents are on public record, thereby hopefully ensuring that there is no attempt by anyone in a position of power at the Civic Centre to stop you from freely carrying out the Policy’s stated intention to ‘investigate any allegation that may have a direct, or indirect, impact of the finances for which [the Council is] responsible.’
Please acknowledge safe receipt of this email and its seven attachments. Thank you. Best wishes