Saturday 6 December 2014

Judge rules Brent Council Employment Tribunal Appeal has 'no reasonable prospect of success'

In a letter sent to Brent Council Legal Services on December 4th, the Employment Appeal Tribunal rules that all grounds of Brent Council's appeal against the Watford Tribunal have 'no reasonable prospect of success'.

The Watford Tribunal had found that Brent Council had discriminated against Rosemarie Clarke on grounds of race, victimised her and constructively dismissed her. Controversially the Council decided to appeal and take no action against the personnel involved.

On the Watford Tribunal Judgment, the Honourable Justice Lewis finds that Brent's Notice of Appeal 'discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing the appeal':
This is a carefully reasoned and thorough analysis by the employment tribunal. The tribunal set out the relevant law, made its findings of fact and reached conclusions open to it on the evidence before it.
He finds no reasonable grounds for the appeal against the finding of victimisation. On the race issue and the finding that Rosemarie Clarke was treated differently to a white male he states:
...the tribunal found that there was a material difference, no adequate explanation of the differential treatment had been given and inferred that the reason for the differential treatment was race. The reasons are clear and disclose no error of law.
On constructive dismissal although he found an incorrect reference to the Council pursuing the claimant during a period of sickness Judge Lewis finds that was not the basis of the finding ands states that the tribunal was entitled to reach the additional conclusion that there was a cumulative course of events amounting to a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

Technically the respondents could seek leave from the Court of Appeal to appeal Judge Lewis's decision but this would involve more expenditure of council taxpayers' money when the Council is implementing massive cuts to services.

The Remedies Direction hearing, when the amount of compensation is decided, is scheduled for December 22nd, 2014.

Meanwhile Cara Davani and the Human Resources Department, named in the original Judgment, are engaged in the restructuring of the senior management team of the Council and will be implementing cuts in staffing, including 40% reduction in central staffing, as a consequence of the 2015-17 budget.

It is difficult to see how staff can have confidence that this will be done fairly in the light of the above.

The Council has refused an independent investigation into the working practises of the Human Resources Department and the Corporate Management Team and instead set up an narrow internal investigation by Deputy leader Cllr Michael Pavey.

I have recently been contacted by ex-council employees who think that their testimony should be heard although some are subject to so-called 'gagging clauses'. 

Brondesbury Conservatives have joined others including Brent Green Party, Brent Trades Council and Brent Against Racism Campaign in calling for an independent inquiry.

They have tabled the following motion for Full Council on Monday stating:
This Council notes the loss of a recent high profile Industrial Tribunal case involving a Brent staff member.

This Council agrees the following:

1.To regret appealing this Tribunal decision.

2. To terminate with immediate effect the Cllr. Pavey- led inquiry into issues resulting from this case.

3. To recognise the importance of transparency and the need to improve morale amongst Brent staff by holding an independent inquiry.....details to be agreed by Council party leaders.

4.To reinforce our support for the Brent staff code of conduct,notably" provide a working environment that is free from any form of discrimination,unfair treatment,bullying or harassment"

5.To note the irony of Brent holding an anti- bullying week between 17 and 21 November.


Anonymous said...

My immediate reaction was that Judge Lewis's reasoning was enough to restore one's faith in the judiciary. Then I realised why it seemed so familiar. He has merely set out simple legal principles which Martin and countless contributors to this blog were arguing months ago and which the Butt/ Pavey/Davani/Gilbert gang, and whoever is paid lavishly to give them legal advice these days, must have been aware of.
What must the total cost (even before compensation) be of this whole grubby and incompetent farce, not just in financial terms but also in morale, reputation and the gradual but very public ratcheting down of standards of morality and decency in public life?

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

The motion should also have called for Chairman Mo to resign with immediate affect. It has no chance of being passed due to party politics unfortunately.

Hopefully the ship that is Brent Council will soon hit an iceberg and sink, taking with it the captain and senior crew, whilst the innocent passengers are rescued.

Anonymous said...

It was never going to succeed a very frivolous appeal and a great waste of taxpayers money .

Unknown said...

It's telling that in item 1: 'regret' for appealing the tribunal decision that its about the result not going their way as opposed to emotional impact that all this must have had upon Rosemarie Clarke.

How about the council chamber actually agree that they regret the shameful way that they have attempted to cover up these allegations of institutional racism as opposed to tackling the cause.

As they wish to terminate Pavey's investigation, how about they now direct resources to identifying the cause of these issues. We can only wonder how much this embacle cost the public and it will cost us all even more unless they get to the bottom of the culture within the organisation.

The reports coming out of Cllr Butt's style of management are also of concern as despite public organisations often citing 'bad apples' as the cause of their issues, it is apparent the barrel is rotten.

Brent Greens have called for (since may):

We call for an independent investigation of:
1. Corporate Management Team officers being paid through their private companies rather than normal pay roll
2. The contractual arrangements for CMT officers and interim appointments
3. Previous employment and business connections between senior offices appointed by Brent Council on an interim basis
4. The working culture of the Human Resources department
5. Brent Council's Whistle Blowing Policy to ensure that it adequately protects whistle-blowers from harassment and retribution.

Time to get on with it now.

Martin Francis said...

Comment by Nan Tewari (attached to East Coast Line item above but reproduced here also):
There should never have been a decision made to appeal. Wrong was done and the best course would have been for the council to deal with the wrong-doers - it is as simple as that. Public money has been wasted in the most profligate fashion in an attempt to salvage personal reputations which had been savaged by the Employment Tribunal ruling and which now lie completely in tatters with nowhere to hide.

It is worth remembering the well-made points made by Philip Grant in September, when he had written to Cllr Butt, Gilbert and Ledden five days before the decision to appeal.

"There is talk of the Council possibly appealing against the judgement, but even if an appeal could change some of the legal interpretation of the facts, it cannot change the findings of fact made by the Tribunal, and those are damning in respect of the actions, attitude and (un)truthfulness of Cara Davani, and also seriously criticise the unreasonable actions taken by Mildred Phillips (Ms Davani's protege and deputy), Christine Gilbert and Fiona Ledden (see in particular para. 240 of the judgement, which can only be read as questioning the truthfulness of evidence which she gave at the Tribunal, on oath?) in the course of the victimisation of Ms Clarke.

Even if this were not a time when every pound of expenditure by the Council needs to be justified, I would still object strongly, as a Brent citizen and Council taxpayer, to any further money being wasted on appealing against this judgement. The only people to benefit if an appeal is pursued will be the lawyers who will charge huge fees for their services (and would have a vested interest in recommending the Council to appeal) and the guilty Council officers whose reputations have been damaged by their unreasonable actions (and in the case of Ms Davani, her vicious actions against one of her officers) being brought to light. The only further expenditure which Brent should pay out in this case is the compensation which will be due to Ms Clarke for the harm done to her in the name of Brent Council.

Anonymous said...

Philip for Fiona Ledden's (undeleted) legal advisor job? I don't think Brent taxpayers can afford a situation where Gilbert is left to get her legal advice from Davani, Butt and some no win/big fee lawyer any more.
Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments, Mike, but I am enjoying my retirement and not having to go to work.

Unfortunately our "Listening Council" seems to think that advice (even good advice) it gets "for free" from people like us is of no value, but that outside consultants etc. who charge them thousands of pounds for telling them what they want to hear is worth every penny of the money they are paid (but which would have been better spent on front line services for the local Council Taxpayers who foot the bill).

If you have seen my open letter to Christine Gilbert, which I have sent a copy of with a covering email to Cllrs. Butt and Pavey, I would hope that her position and that of Cara Davani are now untenable, but we will have to wait and see.

One of my latest pieces of advice to the Council Leader is that he should use the opportunity of the Full Council meeting on Monday evening to make a statement to Councillors, and the people of Brent, about the Employment Tribunal case, including a public apology to Rosemarie Clarke. I hope you are listening this time, Councillor Butt.


Anonymous said...

Is this meeting open to the public?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the open letter and the brilliant work that led up to it, Philip.

Para 2 above: absolutely right. 'Price of everything, value of nothing' comes to mind. 'If I'm not operating in a high-earning, high-spending environment (and being elegantly ripped off at other people's expense) I can't be getting the 'quality' my status and delusions demand'.

Para 3: their positions certainly are untenable but you can bet your life they'll cling on to them until their greedy and shameless little fingers are prised off by the offer of a large bag of Brent taxpayers' money (paid for by sacking a few more guiltless Brent employees).

Para 4: you're absolutely right, but I've seen less unlikely endings in Hollywood Christmas movies!

Mike Hine

Martin Francis said...

Yes, also live streamed.

Anonymous said...

Martin Where's the stream nothing on web site.

Martin Francis said...

Not working tonight for some reason...

Anonymous said...

Now there's a surprise!