Saturday 23 January 2016

Bullying at Brent Council - FoI response

The following response to a Freedom of Information request was released earlier this month. It is of interest in the light of the Cara Davani controversy LINK

FOI Request – 4686497

1)    How many employees of your authority  [Brent Council] have made an official complaint of harassment and bullying at work since the 1st April 2009?


2)    How many of these complaints were upheld in favour of the complainant?


3)    How many of those which were not upheld in favour of the complainant went on to Appeal?


4)    How many of those that went to Appeal were found to favour the complainant?


5)    How many complaints went on to an Employment Tribunal?


6)    How many of these were found to uphold the complaint?


7)    Out of how many of those allegations (the number given to question 1) did the complainant of bullying claim that the bullies were telling lies?


8)    How many staff does your authority have and what is the current population within your authority's area?

There are 2,109 employees as at 31/12/2015

The population of Brent, taken from the GLA short-term population projections for 2015, is an estimated 325,300.


Philip Grant said...

This Brent Council reply to a FoI request was brought to my attention a few days ago by a former Council employee, who like Rosemarie Clarke, was falsely accused of misconduct under Cara Davani's HR regime, but won an Employment Tribunal settlement after her dismissal. In reply to her query of whether I thought that Brent were 'telling fibs', I wrote:

'The only case I can comment on is Rosemarie Clarke's, from the detailed evidence in the Employment Tribunal judgement. Brent would probably claim that there was no 'fib' in saying that this was not an Employment Tribunal case for "bullying and harassment", because the allegations against the Council, which were all upheld, were for constructive dismissal, victimisation and discrimination on the grounds of race. On that basis, they could ignore the fact (even though it was very relevant to the subject matter of the FoI request) that the Tribunal found, that the victimisation etc was a direct result of the grievance complaint which Rosemarie made against Cara Davani for bullying and harassment.'

There are some very interesting paragraphs (253 to 257) in the Employment Tribunal judgement, which look at how Rosemarie Clarke's December 2012 formal complaint about her alleged bullying and harassment by Cara Davani was dealt with. The person appointed (by HR) to deal with that complaint (Ms Arkut) was herself the subject of a bullying and harassment complaint by another Council employee. When Rosemarie complained that she did not think it was appropriate that a person in that position should investigate her allegations, the then Director, Mr Newby, asked Cara Davani to investigate how Rosemarie knew about the complaint against Ms Arkut!

The following extracts are among the Tribunal's very sensible findings on this point:

'For Ms Davani to have been asked to conduct such an investigation was to place Ms Davani in a situation to further bully and harass the claimant [Ms Clarke], ..., but despite this, in circumstances where the claimant had made complaints of harassment and bullying, putting Ms Davani in the confrontational position of challenging the claimant, ..., could only have exacerbated the circumstance of which the claimant was complaining.' (Para. 254)

'The tribunal also finds that it was unreasonable of Ms Davani to have undertaken the task, being Head of the HR function of [Brent Council] in circumstances where she knew she was an interested party in a complaint of harassment and bullying ...' (Para. 255)

Bullying and harassment were clearly a problem at Brent Council when Cara Davani was in charge of its HR, as was the way that complaints about it were dealt with. I only hope that lessons have been learned, particularly by more senior managers, and that bullying and harassment will genuinely not be tolerated in the post-Davani era at the Civic Centre.


Nan. said...

Well done to the person who submitted this FOI. The slippery answers clearly demonstrate that the Council is embarrassed to admit what went on during the Davani /Gilbert years.

I echo Philip's hope that lessons have been learnt because it remains unfortunate that Muddling Mildred (Philips) - Davani's deputy as was - is now in charge of the the good ship HR.

MM as we know, fabricated 'charges' against Rosemarie in order to justify carrying out disciplinary proceedings against her.

On the question of how many cases went on the Employment Tribunal, the Council has another wriggle-out in that cases that are settled before hearings take place, need not be admitted by them as having gone to Tribunal at all.

FOIs are meant to be our means of getting to the truth yet the drafting of them requires a judicial mind-set in order to ferret out the facts because clearly public bodies will always act in a disingenuous manner to avoid addressing what is really being asked.

Examples of the questions needed here might be -

How many cases were lodged at ET?

How many cases contained either allegations of bullying and harassment or references to bullying and harassment even if bullying and harassment were not the specified subject of the court submission?

Of these cases containing either allegations of bullying and harassment or references to bullying and harassment, how many were settled out of court?

The system is totally geared to keeping us in the dark even when purportedly being open. Yet, FOIs are under threat with HMG threatening to charge for FOI requests - presumably too many people have cottoned on to how to word these dastardly requests to prevent honest dissemblers from making a good living in getting away with their half truths..........

Anonymous said...

Where can people can support?? How to tackle this issue when all the doors seems to be closed to employers?