Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ex Brent Council manager slams decision to appeal Employment Tribunal Judgment and failure to order independent investigation

Christine Collins, who used to be Community Engagement Manager at Brent Council, took to a Soapbox at Wembley Connects tonight to lambast the Council's decision to appeal over the recent Employment Tribunal case and its failure to appoint an independent investigator to review the workings of the Human Resources Department.

Collins told the audience that they may recognise her (she used to be the officer facilitating such events) but that she was now speaking in a personal capacity.

She said that she wanted to talk about the Employment Tribunal findings in a case against the Council which found that:
  • a black staff member was directly discriminated against on the protected characteristics of race
  • the claimant suffered victimisation
  • the claimant was constructively dismissed
Christine Collins said that she had read the full findings and the picture painted of employment at Brent Council over the last couple of years was 'horribly familiar'.

She explained that in the summer she was proud to stand side by side with Brent councillors in Cricklewood to stop a group of racists and fascists from ;marching through our streets to divide our community.'

'Imagine my disappointment,' she went on, ' to learn how these same councillors have reacted to the Employment Tribunal findings.'

Collins said that she had expected a council committed to fighting racism and supporting diversity in its employment practices, to be horrified by the findings, sympathetic to the member of staff who was treated so appallingly and anxious to ensure that the climate  of fear and bullying was fully and independently investigated.

Instead the council had decided to appeal the decision which would put the staff member through further stress and anxiety. In addition they had decided to appoint 'one of their own to investigate.'

Pausing to look up from her speech and addressing the councillors and residents assembled at  Patidar House she said:
 'I say "Shame on you Brent Council!"'
Concluding her speech Christine Collins called on Brent councillors to accept the Tribunal findings and have a totally independent review of the conduct of Human Resources in Brent Council:
They are happy to take on large numbers of external consultants to carry out reviews of all kinds of things - why not this? If they are so convinced there is nothing seriously wrong, what have they got to hide?
Brent Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt arrived late to the forum but asked to comment on the Employment Tribunal by Cllr Krupa Sheth, chair of  Wembley Connects, said that the council had to  'undertake due process' in making the appeal and that 'both sides have to be heard',

Challenged by residents with cries of 'nonsense' he became increasingly angry and stumbled over his words. Directly asked if he would order an independent investigation he said 'No' and claimed that Michael Pavey's review would hear from staff and independent consultants.

The audience reacted with derision and calls of 'shame'.







52 comments:

  1. It is a sad state of affairs. I commend Christine for taking a stand and making a public statement. Things within the council are carrying on as normal....Davani in her meetings discussing equality issues - it is a joke. The Head of Diversity - shame on you...what are you standing for working in a regime under a racist bully? Shame on you senior managers who should me working on behalf of the council, not to further their own egos.

    Undertake due process - where is the due process of treating people fairly. I understand another one of Davani's £700 a day consultants is back undertaking work for the council - it still goes on and Davani could care less....I'm assuming that they [said consultant] will also be involved in the review....

    It is not surprising that there has been no further information for staff re Pavey's review, contribution to iip and equality standards etc etc blah blah blah considering that the findings will be published before the new year, it's strange that there isn't a sense of anxiousness across the council - I know, the outcome is already a given. Thank you Christine - staff within the council applaud you. IF only managers took responsiblity and stood up for staff, justice and the right thing instead of cowering in the corner we wouldn't be in this mess. Get the racist out and all the rotteness that goes with her.

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  2. Wow. Wish I'd been there. I worked a bit with Christine. She was a huge help on a community matter which was of very great importance to many people - she helped me push something through that in theory, should have been rejected. I thought well of her then, and liked her. This has reinforced my good opinion of her and indeed, increased it.

    Mo does tend to lose it when challenged: I don't think he is all that good at thinking on his feet, sometimes. It also doesn't help that he wants to have that whole hail fellow well met persona and to be loved.

    The inquiry ought to be independent. The police do it, after all.

    Alison Hopkins

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  3. Its a shame that only at the beginning of the week Cllr Butt managed to get the changes approved which meant there could be no changes in leadership until 2016. (http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/cllr-muhammed-butt-gets-2-year-term.html)

    As what we are seeing here is a complete failure in Leadership.
    Allegations of Institutional Racism at Brent Council should be taken very seriously.
    Christine Collins certainly adds weight to the calls for this investigation to be Independent.

    Scott Bartle.

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  4. Well done Christine Collins for speaking out on this issue. Staff and residents of Brent should not stand for this injustice and keep up the pressure for action against racist management and leadership in Brent. They hope we will forget and that it will all blow over and go away. Keep up the pressure in whatever way you can. No appeal and no safe haven for Cara Devani and racist bullies!

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  5. Christine Collins has led the way in demonstrating that the most effective way of dealing with this matter is in public forums. This raises the profile of the issue, bringing it to the attention of greater numbers of residents, i.e. those people who will have to foot the bill for the abysmal behaviour we are seeing from Cllr Butt.

    The only way to embarrass him and those he leads is to have them account for their actions in public and not allowing them to hide behind the PR department they hired to shield them from us plebs.

    What is immensely sad in all of this is the human cost:
    - to Rosemarie Clarke in terms of what she has been through, what she is currently going through and seeing her future career lying in ruins through no fault of her own;
    - to the residents of Brent generally who will see much needed money haemorraging out of council coffers to meet a settlement for a case which there was ample opportunity to prevent being lodged in the first place;
    - to those most needy residents of the borough who will always have cause wonder if cuts to their services could have been prevented by the exercise of probity on the part of those charged with the guardianship and running of those services.

    Cllr Butt had the opportunity around the time the unfair (constructive) dismissal took place, to prevent the matter going to tribunal by instructing his officers to ensure this outcome (it would not have been correct for him to tell them HOW to do it). I know this because I advised him at the time, to do so as a means of settling the matter by way of compromise which would have been considerably cheaper than defending an action for race discrimination, victimisation and unfair (constructive) dismissal.

    I also drew to Cllr Butt's attention the damaging effect Davani was having not only on the HR function but across the council in the unpleasantly over-zealous manner in which she was earning her crust.

    Cllr Butt refused to take any action.

    When the matter had been lodged at the employment tribunal, I made a further effort to impress upon Cllr Butt the need to head off an actual hearing taking place because of the reputational damage it would cause to the council. At this point it would have been open to Davani, Ledden, Gilbert and Potts to negotiate a settlement, although sadly for us put-upon contributors to the council coffers, it would, at that point, have cost more than if the thing had never been lodged at all.

    Cllr Butt refused to take any action.

    It appears that the entities of Davani, Ledden, Gilbert, Potts and Butt have formed themselves into a single, money-sucking organism that is intent on draining as much out of Brent as it can before floating off to sink its fangs into another unsuspecting victim? If this was a movie, we could call them Cash-Guzzling Nasty Zombies (with apologies to the more benign original, of course)!

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    Replies
    1. Nan,

      You have made some really good points as always. I would just like to remind everyone that Christine Gilbert's husband is the former MP, Tony McNulty, who had to resign as a government minister in the last Labour Government in the expenses claims scandal. It would seem that the couple are well versed in siphoning off public funds.

      Mo Butt was actively supported by Tony McNulty before the last local elections - perhaps as a reward for continuing to employing his wife for over two years now instead of employing a permanent Chief Executive Officer. Mo's integrity and judgement seriously comes into question and something that the London Labour Group would be wise to reflect on.

      Gilbert's association with Davani is well known since the Tower Hamlets days and Davani's liaison with Andy Potts (the employment lawyer for Brent Council) adds a more sinister aspect to the whole rotten affair.

      Delete
    2. In answer to a question, the film whose title I adapted is, Blood-Sucking Nazi Zombies.

      Delete
  6. Well done, Christine. Honest and principled council manager speaking out, eh? Makes you quite nostalgic ..........
    And well done Anon at 23.23, that kind of information brings home their continued hypocritical posturing very effectively.
    And well done the audience at Wembley Connects. Tv cameras in next time?

    Mike Hine

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  7. Go Christine! Go Christine! Go Christine!

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  8. It would be interesting to find out from Brent Council (perhaps under a FOI request) how many BAME - Black, Asian, Minority ethnic senior managers (Director, Assistant Directors and Heads of Service) it employs at present compared to say 2012 (before Cllr John was forced out by Butt & co). The number of BAME senior managers then totalled about 6 or 7 out of about 50. Now I would be surprised if they number more than 1 or 2, which is curious for a Council where the majority of residents are BAME.

    I would bet any money that Brent Council will come back to say that they don't have information of this type!

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    1. Usual reply these days is that it would cost too much (money, that is, not credibility) to supply the data. You'd probably get something along these lines:

      'We at Brent Council are passionate about transparency and openness. We take matters of equality and inclusiveness very seriously. We would love to be able to commission an extortionately-expensive independent consultancy (ideally one owned and run by one of our trusted Leadership Team) to identify and quantify our BAME human capital units and feed back to our stakeholders with detailed and meaningful statistical outcomes. Unfortunately we've spent all our(your) money trying to save Cara's skin with an appeal.
      So, just grabbing a ball-park figure out of the air: I'd say on the 1 side of 2 would just about cover it.
      Thank you for your time.
      ( Brent Council is an equal opportunities employer etc etc etc......blah blah blah.................... '

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    2. But surely they'd sign off;

      ' From the Bullying, Victimisation and Racial Discrimination Team'

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    3. Anon 12:17, how did you guess they'd say that. if they don' have the information, why don't they. That's very poor monitoring if they don't have it. What kind of equalities team wouldn't have that Data? One that's not very good perhaps.................

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    4. Equalities team 'not very good'? Maybe Mr Pavey could head an independent inquiry into it............

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  9. Isn't it time that the reception which councillors and The Leader received at the Wembley Connects meeting last night became what they can expect to receive at every public appearance they make until:
    (a) they respond to people's disgust at the money to be wasted on an appeal, and
    (b) Ms Davani, found guilty by a judge in a court of law of probably the 3 worst offences anyone who is head of HR in one of the most diverse boroughs in Europe could commit, is dealt with appropriately?

    Questions at every meeting. Letters and on every forum. A Facebook group and Twitter campaign.
    Local newspapers need to be reminded that this story is ongoing: those found guilty are still in post (why not suspended, as any teacher, nurse or police officer would have been?). there has been no recognition by the guilty, (or their protectors), of their guilt and no intervention by their bosses to ensure that the pattern of illegal activity which the tribunal found to exist is not still continuing. Is this not negligence in law, a failure to exercise the duty of care required of an employer to safeguard employees? (No doubt Ms Ledden would be happy to give the advice on this which Brent people pay her to provide).

    Television news has started to take an interest in the story and this needs to be facilitated and accelerated.
    Today's Private Eye contains a story with some elements in common with this one (Haringey...Labour council.....consultant...interim.....£1000 a day.....giving work to her own companies.......fiddles.........'because I'm worth it' etc etc) but she, at least, hasn't been found guilty of racial discrimination, victimisation and workplace bullying.
    Butt and Pavey seem content (so far) to keep on digging.
    It's up to us to indicate to them in the most public, media savvy, noisy but smart way possible that they're in one bloody great hole, and that the stuff it's rapidly filling up with doesn't seem to smell a bit like roses.

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    1. This is absolutely what we need. The public getting involved and asking questions at every opportunity. What a disgraceful bunch they are.

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  10. Well done Christine - you speak for many ex and current Brent employees who feel unable to speak openly. Like you the behaviours described in the judgement, which I have also read in full, are all to familiar. Over the last two years Brent Council's culture has changed from one in which employees were encouraged to speak up if they witnessed something 'dodgy' and suggest different ways of doing things to one of bullying those who express any kind of opinion that is not that of Christine Gilbert.

    I appeal to Labour Councillors, especially those who have been around for a number of years, you know in your hearts that things are right, you need to recognise this and stand up and be counted. You have a leader whose main concerns seems to be preventing a leadership contest so that no one can do to him what he did to Ann John (oh the irony) and increasing his own and his friends allowances. Demand that a permanent Chief Executive is appointed - one with a good reputation for high quality strategic leadership - so that the organisation can start to recover. T

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  11. Harlesden Connects is next Tuesday, Willesden Connects the week after. It would be good if this issue was raised as a Soapbox at both of these meetings.

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    1. Outside as well as in?

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    2. Butt & Gilbert will find a way to ensure that this issue is not allowed to be raised!

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    3. They'll have a job stopping it being raised OUTSIDE the meeting! Blocking it would become a story in itself.

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  12. Anon at 23:23 - do you know the name of the consultant, please? When I was chair of Budget Scrutiny, I was told something very similar about a consultant being employed with no job spec, nada. I raised it with a (good) senior officer and was told that no such thing, according to HR, was happening. I can't recall off hand the name of the consultant, and, whilst I've still got assorted email histories, I can't find that particular exchange.

    I totally agree this needs LOTS of noise. It's tip of the iceberg stuff.

    I have had some interesting chats with current councillors of late.

    Alison Hopkins

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    1. Alison, interim and permanent staff have been put in post and are still in post without following due process. This being instigated and orchestrated by the very same racist HR Director, that is Ms Cara Davani.

      When so many unprofessional, bullying intimidators leading the organisation things are bleak.

      These are things only an external investigation can get to the bottom

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    2. Excellent, Alison. Last sentence is the hint of some movement among the councillors that people need if they're to be convinced that it's not hopeless, that things can be done, even if it's not a good idea to expect it to be led by the councillors who,out of misplaced loyalty or plain self-seeking are not that likely to stick their necks out.
      Nevertheless, and whatever we think of them, crammed in a lift with a bunch of serially flatulent 'Leaders', even the most loyal or arse-licking of 'team-players' will probably decide that they can no longer stand the stink by the time they get to the 5th or 6th floor.

      Mike Hine

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    3. I can think of two possibilities as to who the consultant may be....either Frank Dick (a highly paid consultant who has earned bucketfuls of money from Brent for many years now) or Yvonne Foster (who is a close buddy of Davani).

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    4. Or her other close buddy Ruth Philips. Remember Frank Dick worked closely with Gareth.

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    5. Just found this from a Tower Hamlet HR paper

      Human Resources Service across the Council, a group has been established that meets on a
      monthly basis. The group consists of senior Human Resources representatives from each of
      the Directorates and is chaired by the Service Head, Human Resources. Its terms of
      reference, which have been agreed by the Corporate Management Team are as follows:

      Cara Davani Service Head, Human Resources
      Interim Head of Learning & Development Yvonne Foster
      Head of Payroll & Pensions Mildred Phillips
      Head of HR Operations Catriona Hunt
      Ruth Phillips Interim Social Services

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. Christine Collins thank you, your comments are very much appreciated.

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  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  16. It is so very refreshing to hear what Christine Collins did. At last someone with integrity has spoken out in public about the wrong doing at Brent Council. The inbred corruption and protection of a racist bully.

    Once again Cllr Butt was stuttering over his words at Brent Council's Black History Month event. Saying that Davani and Gilbert would assist him in his quest to blah blah blah. Pure and utter hypocrisy is ever I've seen it. What's it like to be the Leader of a Council in such a mess.

    Statistics about the diversity of the population of Brent mean absolutely nothing if you can't get your own house in order. It is an outrage that such deep rooted wrong doing continues and no one outside of Brent can save us from this suffering.

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    1. Para 2. Absolutely right about it being hypocrisy.
      What seems to me more surprising is how stupid it makes Butt look (and he's not a stupid man) if he's reduced to coming out with what you report him saying when he must be aware that absolutely nobody can take him seriously on this and we all know he can't possibly believe any of it himself.

      That's the tragic thing really. He's not actually as bad (or as stupid) as his current behaviour and his current statements make him appear. But he's forced to continue making those statements and appearing that way because of his decision to attach himself to, and to defend, somebody whose professional behaviour is indefensible and who has now had that confirmed by a judge in a court of law.

      I leave it to people who know more about Brent politics than I do to suggest why he's sold his soul in this way, but sold it certainly appears to be. How else do you explain an intelligent and rational man digging his own political and reputational grave so publicly and dragging others like Cllr Pavey into it with him?

      And for whom? Someone whose obnoxious, unprofessional and ultimately counter-productive behaviour in the workplace was already well established, and who now has a judicial record to prove it.

      Cancel the appeal, Cllr Butt, cut her adrift, and try to salvage a little bit of integrity while you still can.

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  17. Christine we are so proud of you. You are the kind of manager Brent desperately needs instead we are left with bullies like Davani who thinks that because she is in the Butt/Gilbert inner circle she can do as she pleases. Staff are so despondent coming into work, it's a wonder so many of them can't wait to be made redundant so they won't have to work in such a toxic atmosphere. Hopefully residents are now opening their eyes to the destructive ever camera friendly Mohamed Butt, you get rid of hardworking conscientious staff and take in yes people on higher salaries, no wonder Brent is in a financial mess.

    I would say to staff who gets forced into taking part in the Pavey whitewash, tell them no comment for each question asked.

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  18. LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR ROSEMARIE TODAY (THURSDAY). LAST DAY TO PERSUADE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME.
    QUICK ENTRY FOR THE 'REASONS FOR VOTING'? JUST PUT: 'SEE EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL JUDGEMENT'.

    E.Tribunal (Mr)

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    1. Not anymore now extended to 22/10/2014

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    2. Round up more dogs, C-Dav !

      Mr T

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    3. An-dyyy! Get the dog bones and the net! We're going vote-hunting!

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  19. How strange that Brent Council took the step suspend a Councillor while his conduct is being investigated.

    An extract:
    A spokesman for the Brent Labour Party group told the Times Cllr Van Kalwala has been suspended by the London region as a result of the accusations.

    “It is an administrative suspension which is standard procedure while any investigations are taking place into the conduct of a councillor.
    Full article

    http://www.kilburntimes.co.uk/news/crime-court/brent_labour_councillor_charged_with_three_offences_1_3746655

    So I imagine he's been suspended because this conduct would fall short of that expected by a Councillor. So why wasn't Davani suspended during the Oyster investigation? Why having been found guilty of racial discrimination and bullying, with the judgement to evidence this has the HR Director not been suspended pending an investigation into the following allegations:

    racial discrimination
    bullying
    victimisation
    brining the council into disrepute

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  20. We all know Davani will be running Pavey's review, Pavey will only be the mouth piece. Staff please stand up and have nothing to do with it if you feel you can't honestly express how you feel, staff should boycott it to show their disdain. Christine Collins you are a star, you have always been loyal to Brent, we love you, keep speaking up hopefully others will join in.

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  21. Labour Councillors don't stand by and do nothing - you have the power to demand change. Change in the way this issue is being dealt with and change in the way the council is being run.

    When, a few years ago a serious allegation was made against a leading councillor an independent investigator was brought in because no one could say that the investigation was influenced by previously close working relationships and it would enable witnesses to be open and honest in their evidence. As her lead councillor Councillor Pavey will have a close working relationship with Ms Davani - any reasonable person is likely to think that this relationship will influence his findings and because of this junior officers are unlikely to feel able to share their views freely.

    An independent investigation into Ms Davani and the way she operates is the only thing that will close this issue. Why not use the money that is due to be spent on appealing the ET.

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    1. Absolutely right and your points suggest why it is crucial that this case gets publicity, publicity, publicity.
      1. 'an independent investigator was brought in because no one could say that the investigation was influenced by previously close working relationships'. The difference now, I think, is that these kind of people don't really care what people's perception of the fairness and openness of the investigation might be. They assume that they can get away with it, just brazen it out and it will pass. And if you look at Davani's record you've got to conclude that, so far at least, they're probably correct. People like these have adapted much better than we have to the cess-pool that much of our public life has become.

      2. 'and it would enable witnesses to be open and honest in their evidence'. True, but that's the last thing Davani/Gilbert/Butt/Pavey want witnesses to be and they, so far at least, are the ones in a position to stop it happening. And, again, they assume they'll get away with it and, given how little we've come to expect in the way of integrity from such people, they're probably right to feel confident.

      We can no longer hope to appeal to the better nature and the principles that these kinds of people no longer feel the need even to pretend to have.
      All that's left to us is to make it clear to them that continuing to behave in the way they are behaving will be less comfortable and of less advantage to them in the end than choosing another way. At the moment, Butt is still taking the path of short term advantage. By now he should be beginning to realise that this is going to be a long-term problem for him.
      How long term and how uncomfortable is completely up to us (and the occasional Employment Tribunal judge).
      An excellent start has been made on Wembley Matters. Christine Collins has brilliantly inspired more people this week. The local press needs to wake up to its obligations to its readership and become a reflection of their views and not those of an isolated clique within the council.The Pavey 'investigation' has, within a week, become a joke. It's effectively dead in the water. Butt must realise that no one, apart from him and his few chums, believes he has taken any substantive action over an extremely grave and damaging matter.
      The onus is now on him to declare what serious action he intends to take.
      The onus on us is to keep up so much pressure on Butt and his clique that he realises we aren't going to go away and that, even if only to save his own skin, he needs, no matter how belatedly, to do the appropriate thing.

      Publicity, publicity, publicity.

      (BTW, when do they start counting the Rosemarie votes?!)

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  22. Frank Dick - that's the one! Thank you.

    As to the Labour Group breaking ranks, I honestly doubt it, whatever is said in private. I've heard all sorts of things over the years, but none of it seems to come out. (If you want real scandal, it's a pity the equalities training wasn't recorded.)

    It wasn't Brent who suspended Zaffar, he's still a councilor. It was the Labour Party: standard practice, I believe.

    Alison Hopkins

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  23. http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/question-time-brent-tickets-13348119585 Brent Question Time - How can we help individuals and the local community to become more resilient when the public sector is making savings?
    Stop wasting taxpayers' money on paying for appeals

    Just saw this on Brent's website apparently tickets are limited so you need to apply early.....

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  24. If it was REALLY modelled on BBC Question Time the panellists would represent different political perspectives. These are all Labour and even worse all members of the Brent Executive.

    One party state PR.

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  25. Makes you SICK when Brent claim there is No money for local services and yet can pay for the defence of the privileged Ms Davani.

    Brent's priorities are upside down.

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  26. Christine, I don't know you, but I applaud you. Thank you , thank you so very much. This is what the people of Brent need. An honest person, with the utmost integrity, you are indeed a principled woman.

    Perhaps Cllr Butt will realise something has to be done when he stumbles over more than just his words. No Silly internal enquiries, that will achieve zilch.

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  27. Current position which takes no reminding....Clarke case calls Davani a intimidating and racist bully -. She's still in post even after being found to be stealing by having the luxury of having her travel paid with the hard earned money of the local tax payers.Teflon Davani comes to mind...

    Pavey Review...to include IIP and Equalities and will involve staff - all influenced by Davani - she looks after IIP, equalites and hand picked the staff who are currently in HR - the other people of colour have left only to be directly replaced by those who were interviewed by Davani and her partner (Andy Potts). I'm assuming that the review will speak to the 8 out of 10 staff who are already happy with the policies as those who have left they will shout sour grapes...

    I understand staff have been contacted and told about the critical and important employer messages such as borough roadshow, the benefits of stopping smoking and whatever else is important to the lives of staff working for an equal opportunity employer. I hasten to add, no mention of the review, structure, timelines, independent advisers...etc etc etc etc I guess that it's not important to an equal opportunity employer..

    What is really funny(insulting) is that these white folk still think that we are really stupid. Making decisions for the good of us coloureds.....feels like I'm down south...when's the lynching - oh they've had this already when they dismissed Rosemary Clarke!!!

    MESSAGE TO BRENT COUNCIL ELITE WHITE PEOPLE - PLEASE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING IT IS TOO PAINFUL TO WATCH THIS INCOMPETENCE. IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING GET RID OF THE RACIST AND ALL THESE INVOLVED IN THIS FIASCO. DO NOT WASTE MY MONEY AS A COUNCIL TAX PAYER TO FURTHER VICTIMISE CLARKE IN AN APPEAL....

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    1. Since when have they been involving the borough soilcitor's department in staff interviews?

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  28. You're right. But 'THESE white folk'?. THOSE white folk, maybe.

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  29. What needs to happen is a BBC panorama investigation !

    This might be the only way for justice to be done.

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  30. As Ms Gilbert is the top manager, she ought to suspend Ms Davani if she were a good seniors manager without any skeletons in the closet.

    However to us, it all seems a big cover up.

    All the skeletons start becoming difficult to keep buried.

    The day of reckoning is coming for Ms Gilbert and her band of merry grave diggers.

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    1. Gilbert isn't going to suspend her best mate now is she?

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