Monday, 29 September 2014

Brent's Corporate Management Team - looking after each other

Brent Green Party and Brent Trades Union Council in their calls for an independent investigation into Brent Council have included an investigation into previous business and employment relationships of senior officers.

Christine Gilbert is an ex-Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Counci and ex-chief of Ofsted. She became Interim Chief Executive of Brent Council following the row between Muhammed Butt (who had ousted former leader Ann John) and the then Chief Executive Gareth Daniel.

Daniel evetually left with a payment of £200,702.

In the course of the row three members of Brent's Corporate Management Team had written in Daniel's defence.

Clive Heaphy,  Chief Finance Officer of Brent Council, formerly Interim Director of Finance at Ofsted  employed Cara Davani on a £700 a day contract as Interim Head of HR. She was previously Director of Human Resources at Tower Hamlets Council and had worked as a consultant for Ofsted

Cara Davani was originally contracted with Brent Council by Heaphy, and her fees paid through Cara Davani Ltd., although the Brent Audit investigation found no written contract existed. Davani's initial engagement was from March 2012 to 31st October 2012.

Cara Davani drew up Christine Gilbert's contract which included payment into her private companty Christine Gilbert Associates in September 2012. She earned £100,000 in six months and later took up an additional job in Haringey. LINK

Clive Heaphy who had been suspended in August 2012 as Chief Finance Officer of Brent Council on grounds, later withdrawn, of gross misconduct, left the Council shortly after Daniel's departure and the day before Christine Gilbert's appointment as Acting Chief Executive. She took up the post officially on November 5th 2012.

Heaphy left with a payment of £140,508.

Fiona Ledden, Head of Legal and Procurement, wrote the report that recommended to the Council that Christine Gilbert continue as Interim Chief Executive until after the 2014 local elections.

Fiona Ledden prevented me from speaking to Brent Council on the issue of the appointment of a permanent Chief Executive. Correspondence about whether she was correct in that decision continues.

Christine Gilbert will continue as Interim Chief Executive during the Autum and Spring according to Muhammed Butt so that she can work on the new Borough Plan.

A  recruitment process for a permananent Chief Executive will begin in 2015.


Anonymous said...

If you're going to lift whole articles from Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column, Martin, you could at least give the mag a name-check.
What? This hasn't appeared there yet?
Give them time .......

Anonymous said...

I heard the name Andrew Potts in connection with this sorry tale. Does anyone know who he is and where he fits into the story?

Martin Francis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin Francis said...

OMG - now you want a blog on partners and spouses!?

Unknown said...

yes please if its relevant to this tale of corruption that needs to be exposed....thank you Martin Francis

Anonymous said...

Thomas Cattermole, Head of Executive and Member Services at Brent (appointed this year on a £60k plus salary) was Christine Gilbert's Executive Assistant at Ofsted.

You are just starting to scratch the surface of this!

Anonymous said...

Isobel Cattermole thought to be related to Tom was Service Head, Strategic & Operational Services,
Education at TH when Christine Gilbert worked there - they are rumoured to be friends. Sara Williams Assistant Director of Children and Families at Brent was Assistant Chief Executive under CG at TH.

Anonymous said...

The definition of interim is 'lasting for a short time'. In May 2015 CG will have been 'interim' Chief Executive for 2 1/2 years. She did not go through a recruitment process as would happen in a permanent role - this would have included opposition councillors - she was appointed by the Leader and has been kept by the Leader.

The arguments put forward for extending her lucrative contract are flimsy at best and concocted at worst. If Councillor Butt really wanted to stabilise the the council after Gareth left then he would have recruited a permanent CE as quickly as possible - someone with a long term interest in the borough, how it operates and the services it provides. But the market has not been tested as an advert has not been placed or a recruitment process started.

An organisation's culture good or bad comes from the top. It is about time that all councillors from all groups, Cabinet or not demanded that the process is started to get a permanent CE in place as soon as possible. Come on some things are more important than group loyalty - the people who elected you!

Anonymous said...

Well it is definitely who you know not what you know - so unfair. Oh yes what was that Cllr Butt said about fairness?

Anonymous said...

OMG - it just goes on and on. Previous colleagues brought in all over the shop.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Eye's Rotten Boroughs will be taking up the extraordinary numbers of wheels-within-wheels that appear to make up Brent's Corporate Management Team - 'corporate'. Says it all.

Alan Stanton said...

Christine Gilbert :
Although I was until May 2014 a Haringey Labour councillor I never had the pleasure of meeting Christine Gilbert. She was appointed in June 2013 as our "Schools Champion" by Cllr Claire Kober, Haringey's Dear Leader.

Nor have I any idea what, where, when, or how Ms Gilbert did her championing. So I have made a Freedom of Information request.

I am aware of some of Ms Gilbert's and her OFSTED colleagues' involvement in events following the death of Peter Connelly. (When Ms Gilbert was Head of Ofsted.) That involvement has recently been looked at again in the book by Ray Jones: The Story of Baby P. ( ). Also in the BBC Panorama documentary "Baby P - The Untold Story. ( ) Which I think is still available on the BBC iPlayer.

Tom Cattermole
I did meet Tom Cattermole as he was at one point the political assistant to Haringey Labour Group when I was a councillor. As I recall Mr Cattermole may have worked to Cllr George Meehan, Leader at the time, and perhaps to the Chief Whip. I heard he subsequently went to work as a PA to Christine Gilbert at Ofsted.

Isobel Cattermole
I'm told that Tom Cattermole is the son of Isobel Cattermole. From a Google search it appears that Ms Cattermole was at one time a deputy Director of Education with Christine Gilbert in Tower Hamlets.

Other than that, until recently I recalled nothing about her except for reading the Daily Express exposé about first-class rail tickets which she - then Director of Children's Services in Tower Hamlets - and her Deputy enjoyed in their trip to the Association of Directors for Children’s Services conference in Manchester. ( )

Julie Davies
However Isobel Cattermole has recently popped up in Haringey when she was appointed as the "Independent investigator" to investigate allegations of "gross misconduct" made against Julie Davies the local NUT branch Secretary. Julie was suspended in July this year on what appear to me to be entirely spurious grounds. Read more on the support group website (

The main "allegation" seems to be that a few local headteachers find Julie an effective trade union rep for her 2000+ NUT members. Now, I can entirely appreciate this viewpoint. As a former school governor and a councillor who sat on staff disciplinary appeals, I have occasionally found trade union reps a real pain in the neck when they challenge management and hold up changes. However, as a socialist and - many decades years ago as a former union shop steward (in Brent as it happens) I also know that this is neither gross nor misconduct. It's a valuable and often essential part of employee and human rights.

A further allegation against Julie Davies is that, having asked her three St Ann's ward councillors for help in getting her own and neighbours' food recycling bins emptied during the hottest weeks of the summer, she wrote a very brief email to one councillor comparing the stink of the bins to vote-rigging at the local Labour Party branch selection meeting.

To declare my own interest, my wife Zena Brabazon and I are personal friends of Julie and David Davies and, last summer, we smelt the stinking food waste bins along their street.

Zena was one of the three former councillors affected by the vote-rigging in St Ann's ward Tottenham. Anyone who wants to know more, please look at Harringay Online Community website. ( )

Alan Stanton said...

Update 8 November 2014:
Isobel Cattermole has now sent in the report of her "Independent Investigation into Julie Davies alleged misconduct. There's a brief report on the Support Group website here.