Friday 5 August 2016

Auditor asked to make a Public Interest Report on Davani pay-off

The Cara Davani issue just won't go and the news that she now runs a 'boutique hotel' in Suffolk LINK isn't going to exactly endear her to those who have been seeking out the truth about her £157k pay-off.

Now Councillor John Warren, leader of Brent Conservative Group, has asked Brent Council's Auditor, KPMG, to make a Public Interest Report under Section 24  of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
Dear Mr. Johnstone, 

I seek your consideration of a public interest report in respect of the Accounts of the L.B.of Brent for 2015/2016...........

1. I am on the electoral register in the Brondesbury Park  Ward in HBP4.

2.” Why you are objecting and facts on which you rely.”

I am objecting that you have not issued a report on what I shall refer to as the “ Rosemarie Clarke saga .”.......and put forward the following....

(a) L.B.Brent has suffered a significant financial loss due to mismanagement,incompetence,and decision - making at the highest level that fail totally to pass ANY test of “ reasonableness.”
(b) The cumulative cost of this saga totals in excess of £1 m. for 2014/2015 and 2015/2016.
(c) There is considerable interest in this saga from Brent residents.
(d) As admitted by L.B. of Brent, here has been considerable reputational damage to the Council as a result of this saga.

3. “ Details of any matter you think the external auditor should make a public interest report about .”.......

(a) The saga as referred to above with specific reference to .....

•          did the personal relationship between Christine Gilbert ,former Chief Executive ,and Cara Davani have any effect on the decision - making  in this saga?
•          did the fact that  the two afore-  mentioned individuals had previously worked together at both Ofsted and L.B. of Tower Hamlets play any part in the decision - making in this saga?
•          was it ,in  any way possible, “ reasonable “ for Ms Gilbert NOT to  initiate a disciplinary process against M/ s Davani in the light of the brutal judgement and comments by the Judge in the  Employment Tribunal case  at Watford - 3302741/2013?
•          did “ unreasonable “ decision - making in this saga mean that Brent Council should never have been placed in the position of having to agree an exit payment to M/ s Davani of £157,610 - as per 2015/16 accounts?
•          was it a proper use of public monies for L.B.of Brent to pay the costs/ damages awarded personally - as a defendant- against M/ Davani?

4. “ What you would like the external auditor to do ?”

I should like you to issue a public interest report on the reasonableness or otherwise of the decision - making in the “ Rosemarie Clarke saga. “..... because of the significant cost in money terms, Council reputational damage  and Brent  staff- relations ....
•          was it reasonable to take disciplinary action in the first place against Ms Clarke?
•          was it reasonable to appeal the Tribunal verdict in the light of the Judge’ s comment that “ Brent had no reasonable prospect of success ?”
•          was it reasonable not to take disciplinary action against Ms Davani in the light of the Tribunal judgement?
•          was it reasonable for Brent to pay all Ms Davani ‘ legal costs and damages personally awarded against her?
•          was it reasonable for Brent to make the exit payment of £157,610 to Ms Davani?
As is required by law the request has also been submitted to Brent Council's Chief Finance Officer, Conrad Hall.

If anyone else wishes to make a request it must be written in a proper form to the Auditor by August 11th. Here is some guidance from  Philip Grant submitted earlier today as a blog comment:
if you are on the voters list for Brent, you have a right, if you wish, to object to the expenditure of £157,610 by Brent Council, BUT ONLY if you submit your objection in a proper form by Thursday 11 August.

If you do want to do this, it can be done by email to the auditor at KPMG: , and a copy must also be sent to Brent Council's Chief Finance Officer: .

Your email would need to say that it is about the accounts of the London Borough of Brent for 2015/16, and that you are objecting under Section 27 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

You need to say that you are an elector in Brent, give your full postal address, and (if you know them) the name of the Ward in the borough and the constituency (e.g. Brent North, Brent Central or Hampstead & Kilburn) in which you are registered to vote.

You must say what you believe is wrong about the accounts and why you believe they are wrong. If it is the £157k payment, you should say that you are objecting to the compensation for loss of office payment of £157,610 to Brent's former Human Resources Director, shown at Note 30 (Senior Employees' Remuneration) in the accounts, and that you think it is wrong to include this amount in the accounts because it was not a proper payment for the Council to make.

In support of your objection, you need to explain why you think the £157k should not have been paid, and provide what evidence you can. Based on your comment, you could say that Cara Davani should already have been sacked for gross misconduct after the Tribunal findings against her (Note: these were NOT for racial discrimination, but for victimising Rosemarie Clarke and for wrongly having her suspended for misconduct just because Rosemarie had complained about being bullied and harassed by her); that she should not have been given a compensation payment for leaving (or at most only a small one, quoting the normal redundancy rates from your comment); and that the £157k payment shows she was being treated more favourably than she should have been because she was a crony of Christine Gilbert.

You don't need to provide much evidence, as you can also say that you are aware that there has been another objection about the leaving payment to Cara Davani, and that you would like any evidence provided in any other objections to be used in support of your objection as well.

At the end of your objection email, you would need to ask the auditor to investigate the payment you have objected to, and either:

1) ask the Court to declare the payment unlawful, under Section 28, if he thinks there is a strong enough case for this; or,

2) make a public interest report, under Section 24, giving his views on the payment and asking Brent Council to take action to remedy it.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps we long suffering council tax payers should all turn up at the hotel, enjoy ourselves and when it comes to paying say "no we've already paid for all this" or "It's on Christine Gilbert's tab".

Philip Grant said...


I have now sent my own objection letter to the auditor, so that there will be at least two (and possibly more) local electors challenging Brent's 2015/16 accounts. I have objected to four 'items of account':

1. The proportion of the (still undisclosed by Brent, after my request to inspect the agreement was refused) total sum paid to settle the Rosemarie Clarke case which should be treated as the personal liability of Cara Davani as a separately named respondent.

2. A proportion of Brent's legal costs in that case (Brent have told me that the total fees paid to external lawyers for the case was £48,773) which should have been recharged to Cara Davani for representing her personally.

3. The whole £157,610 "compensation for loss of office" paid to Cara Davani when she left the Council in June 2015. (My request to inspect the agreement under which this was paid, or the legal advice and any other documents related to this payment, but at least we know the figure from the notes to the accounts!)

4. The whole amount paid as an "Exit Package" to Ms Davani's partner, Andy Potts, when he left the Council in June 2015. (I was refused permission to inspect any of the documents, and do not know the amount involved, but was told by the Council: ‘… it may be helpful if I confirm that Mr Potts was made redundant following a reorganisation in legal services, and received the council’s standard terms in such situations.’)

I have set out all the evidence and reasoned argument I can to show that these expenses were incurred unreasonably and unlawfully by Brent Council, and have asked the auditor to apply to the Court (if he feels there is a strong enough case) for a declaration that these payments were 'contrary to law'.

If he does not feel that there is a strong enough case to take this Court action, I have asked him (as Cllr. Warren has already done) to make a Public Interest Report.