Tag Archives: bullying

Is Boris Johnson hoping we’ll forget bullying claims against Priti Patel? We won’t!

Priti smug as usual: but Ms Patel may have the smirk wiped off her face if the report into alleged bullying – by her – in three different government departments is published in full.

Downing Street is refusing to publish a full report into bullying claims against Priti Patel – and has postponed it until after the summer.

It is nearly a week since the Prime Minister’s office said he had decided he would not allow the full report to be seen by the public.

What does Johnson – let alone Patel – have to hide?

At the time, Boris Johnson’s spokesman refused to say whether the report would be published before Parliament went into recess. Well, that happened on Wednesday (July 23) so now we know the answer.

By now, you should know the story: Patel faces allegations of bullying while she was working in three different government departments – including the Home Office, where former Permanent Secretary Sir Phillip Rutnam says he was the victim of a “vicious and orchestrated” campaign against him.

He has launched legal proceedings against her for unfair dismissal, so it seems whatever Downing Street allows to be published may be answered in court.

The report has already been long-delayed by Mr Johnson – as was the so-called “Russia Report” which revealed that successive Tory governments including his own had avoided investigating interference in the UK’s democracy by Russia, while allowing oligarchs from that country to launder money here.

It has been claimed that the delay has been caused by a spat between Johnson and the senior civil servant carrying out the inquiry, Helen MacNamara.

He allegedly refused to publish it unless it cleared Ms Patel completely, while she was allegedly resisting this outcome.

Downing Street’s comment on July 20 suggests that Johnson now wants to publish those parts of the report that clear Ms Patel. It must be nice for her to think that parts of it do.

But the fact that it still hasn’t seen the light of day suggests that Ms MacNamara remains firmly opposed to any presentation that may distort the full facts of the matter.

But it seems she is being moved to another Whitehall department, suggesting that Johnson is getting her out of the way – in favour of a civil servant he can bully?

This Writer thinks this report is being subjected to political interference and the public should push for it to be published in full, including all findings – good or bad.

Source: Priti Patel ‘bullying’ report will not be published in full, Downing Street says – Mirror Online

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Priti Patel bullying claims aren’t as dead as we’ve been led to believe

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: allies against the civil service?

Isn’t this interesting?

Way back at the end of April, we were all being told that Priti Patel would be cleared of all allegations that she bullied civil servants in three separate government departments

Yes, the claim prompted condemnation of the Cabinet Office inquiry process, which is conducted in secret and offers no recourse for complainants.

And Boris Johnson has already been criticised for compromising the process by insisting, before the inquiry had concluded, that he would continue to support Patel.

When This Site published a story about it, I wrote that the courts had yet to hear the case of Sir Philip Rutnam, the former permanent secretary to the Home Office, who had brought a case of constructive dismissal against Ms Patel.

I pointed out that the whole Cabinet Office inquiry process would be brought into question if the courts find against Ms Patel.

Now it seems the result of the inquiry has been delayed by the senior civil servant carrying it out, Helen MacNamara, after she heard evidence supporting Sir Philip’s claims.

Here’s The Independent (because The Times is behind a paywall):

The Times has reported a stand-off between Ms MacNamara, the Cabinet Office’s head of propriety and ethics, and her political masters.

The article suggested the inquiry report will never be published, unless the prime minister is able to say the investigation found no conclusive evidence of bullying, an outcome that Ms MacNamara is resisting.

It would be corrupt if the government suppressed the inquiry’s report to save the blushes of a bullying cabinet member.

If Patel has behaved inappropriately towards civil servants in the Home Office, Department of Work and Pensions and Department of International Trade, then she should be removed from any position of responsibility.

Basically, she should be sacked in disgrace.

If Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is shown to have tried to exert undue influence to prevent the facts from reaching the public, then he should resign.

No wonder the Labour Party – and others including the FDA union that represents public service managers – is demanding the report’s release.

And the court case still hasn’t taken place. What will Johnson do about that?

Source: Labour demands release of Priti Patel bullying report, amid claims of ‘political interference’ | The Independent

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Cabinet Office inquiry expected to clear Patel of bullying. But what will the courts do?

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: allies against the civil service?

Read this – it’s not a good thing:

Priti Patel is expected to be cleared this week of bullying senior civil servants in three separate government departments, Whitehall sources have confirmed.

The home secretary had been accused of breaching the ministerial code by mistreating staff at the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for International Trade.

Reports of her impending clearance have prompted condemnation of the Cabinet Office inquiry process, which is conducted in secret and offers no recourse for complainants. Boris Johnson has already been criticised for compromising the process by insisting, before the inquiry had concluded, that he would continue to support Patel.

It is not acceptable that Boris Johnson compromised a major inquiry into the behaviour of his Home Secretary by announcing his continued support for her before it had finished.

But here’s why it could turn out well – and embarrassing for Johnson:

She is still to face claims from her former Home Office permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, who is using whistleblowing laws to take her to an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal.

The courts won’t accept any interference from Johnson – that’s one reason he has already said he wants to restrict their ability to overrule political decisions that contradict the law.

(And you should be thinking about that very hard.)

If the courts find against Patel, it will throw the whole Cabinet Office inquiry process into question.

Source: Priti Patel expected to be cleared of bullying by Cabinet Office inquiry | Politics | The Guardian

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Did disablist bullying lead to the death of this prisoner?

Dead: Liridan Saliuka was pronounced dead after being found on the floor of his prison cell. Was it the result of disablist bullying?

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is to investigate after a disabled man was found dead in a cell – possibly after being bullied.

Liridon Saliuka was found in his cell in Belmarsh Prison on January 2. The Prison service confirmed he had died.

He had been imprisoned on remand, charged with murder – although he had protested his innocence and intention to clear his name.

He underwent extensive reconstructive surgery after a car crash two years ago, and was given metal plates that made it difficult for him to walk or stand still for long periods.

A surgeon’s report had concluded that he should be considered as “permanently disabled”.

But this seems to have been ignored by the minions of Her Majesty’s Government, who moved him from a special cell – with an orthopaedic mattress – to a standard cell.

His sister Dita reported that he had said this was so uncomfortable for him that he was sleeping on the floor.

She also said the claim by the authorities that his death was self-inflicted is unlikely to be true, as he had always said people who committed suicide were weak and selfish.

Isn’t this just further evidence of disablist discrimination by the Tory government and its minions?

Source: Investigation after prisoner found dead in cell at Belmarsh | UK news | The Guardian

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New revelations about Tory libeller Claire Perry – while the BBC dithers over its defence

Claire Perry: Even in the Commons, it seems she’s a loudmouth.

Apparently Claire Perry is a bully, besides being libellous and misandrist.

The Tory Energy Minister, who habitually accuses men of “mansplaining” when they get the better of her on television, has now been accused of “shouting and swearing” at civil servants, it seems.

And of course she accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism on the BBC’s Question Time on November 15.

The BBC failed to screen the offending words out of its broadcast of the debate, meaning it is also guilty of libelling Mr Corbyn. If the outburst had been cut, Ms Perry would still have been guilty of slander, as the many members of the studio audience would still have heard it.

And what excuse has the BBC given?

None that is any good. In fact, the BBC has dithered.

According to Skwawkbox, the BBC stated: “David Dimbleby ensured that Labour frontbencher spokesperson and close ally of Mr Corbyn, Barry Gardiner MP, was given the opportunity to challenge the comments made by Claire Perry MP, which he did.”

That’s neither here nor there because it is not a defence against a libel accusation.

And the available defences aren’t applicable here. They include:

Truth – obviously, as the claim is not true, this defence is not available.

Honest opinion – this needs to be based on fact so, again, this defence is not available.

Public interest – this covers situations in which the information is false but may not seem so at the time to the person accused of defamation, and that they had a duty to report it before going into the process of verifying the information. It can be used by someone who finds themselves in a position in which it seems a necessity, either moral, legal, or social, to impart certain information to another who has an interest. But it is public knowledge that all the accusations of anti-Semitism raised against Mr Corbyn so far have been proved false, and there is no public interest in repeating false claims, nor is there any moral, legal or social necessity to do so.

Absolute privilege – this would allow complete freedom of speech but is only available in certain situations and a TV show is not one of them.

Innocent dissemination – this is not available to the author of a defamatory statement but is for innocent parties such as Internet Service Providers who act as a medium through which potentially libellous material may be published but had no knowledge that what they published was defamatory, had no reason to believe that the material would contain libel, and had not been negligent in this lack of knowledge.

It seems Ms Perry may soon face punishment by Parliamentary authorities for breaching the ministerial code, which says relationship with civil servants should be “proper and appropriate”.

But she could be joined in court by the producer(s) of BBC Question Time.

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Why the Kate Fitzgerald furore has failed those she most wanted to help

Workplace bullies in both Ireland and the UK must be celebrating wildly in the wake of the Kate Fitzgerald affair.

For those who aren’t aware, Miss Fitzgerald was the author of Employers failing people with mental health issues, a piece that was published anonymously in the Irish Times on September 9 last year (the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day). The piece detailed some of the author’s history of depression and spoke of an attempt to take her own life, followed by voluntary hospitalisation.

It then discussed the problems she encountered when she returned to work. After stating that she loved her job, and had checked out of hospital against medical advice after being unable to get a firm answer about when she would be able to leave, she wrote: “I did not… expect that I would be met with casual hostility, with passive-aggressive references to my mental incapacity for my profession, and my apparently  perceived ‘plan’ to leave the company entirely in the lurch.”

She wrote: “My manager… met the story of my misery with confusion and the suggestion that I could not be trusted with seniority. I was accused of planning my absence. Every question seemed posed with the hope that it might bolster a preconceived notion… Much of what my employer has done and said since my absence has been illegal. And I do not think for a minute that what my employer did was an isolated incident.”

References to her mental incapacity, accusations of planning to leave the company in the lurch, suggestions that she could not be trusted with seniority, questions designed to prove preconceived notions about her – these are clear signs of workplace bullying. But the article was about the way relationships with colleagues can change after they become aware that a person has a mental health problem like depression, or has tried to self-harm. The aim was clearly not to accuse businesses but to advise sufferers. Towards this end, the paper published helplines for readers who were in a similar situation.

Nobody at the paper knew that, by the time the article was published, its author Kate Fitzgerald had already taken her own life. She was 25.

Her father Tom rang the newspaper the day after publication, to say he thought that the author was his daughter and that she had taken her own life between its having been submitted and published, and the paper ran a moving article revealing her identity in late November – thereby opening a can of very nasty worms.

As soon as the identity of the article’s author became known, it became possible to work out the identity of her employers whose actions she had described as “illegal”. The minute that information was known, this allegation became legally actionable and the newspaper was in danger of a libel suit from her former employers.

The newspaper acted to rectify this issue within the bounds of the law and, as I understand it, under legal advice after Miss Fitzgerald’s employers registered their “unhappiness” with the article. Its actions included an apology to the company in which it made another mistake, stating “significant assertions within the original piece were not factual”. In essence, the paper was calling Miss Fitzgerald a liar with no evidence to prove this – in the knowledge that it is impossible to libel the dead. Sadly, respect for the dead went out the window, too.

It is certainly true that the employers – I think everyone concerned knows it was a firm called The Communications Clinic – have been put in an extremely difficult position by this. There is no legal case to answer because the allegation cannot be put to the company – but many people know about it, nonetheless. Add to this the fact that another former employee, Karagh Fox, had taken legal action against the firm, alleging that she had been the victim of workplace bullying, and had settled out of court, and any right-minded observer might be forgiven for thinking something was not right there. To my knowledge, the firm itself has issued no public statement of any kind. It doesn’t have to.

The whole saga has shamefully overshadowed what Miss Fitzgerald was trying to do, and I fear that – for many – the point she was trying to make has been lost. The affair has paradoxically proven to be both a distraction from, and proof of, what Miss Fitzgerald was trying to highlight: that working people with depression need support from their colleagues, not intimidation.

And, believe me, people who are suffering at work, not through a lack of professionalism on their part but a lack of understanding from senior members of staff, will feel intimidated by what has happened here.

What have they learned from this? If they blow the whistle, they won’t be believed. Their employers will use the law to gag anyone who suggests they have a case. Even after they die, they won’t get to prove their case.

This is what this story shows. Bullying in the workplace will continue because there is no way to show up these people for what they are. Trust me; I’ve been through it.

There are three approaches to solving workplace bullying issues: by informal resolution at the workplace; through a formal complaints procedure, again at the workplace; or by external procedures such as legal action.

The first time I was involved in workplace bullying was the manager of a company where I was a senior officer. He had ruled that any complaints about any member of staff must be made through him, so the system was corrupt. What do you think he would have done if the complaint was about him? I stuck it out for a year and then quit – and the business suffered as a result.

This is exactly what Miss Fitzgerald warned against (although her references to suicide took the issue to a further extreme than my own experience): “Every day a company loses a valuable employee… At a time when small, medium and large companies rely on dedicated staff for the vision and drive to pull them through challenging times, these are not losses we can risk taking on the chin.”

The second time was in a different firm where a more senior person was bullying me, but I had recourse to a formal complaints procedure and invoked it. I spoke to the manager, who agreed to separate us – but the bully was never told why the changes were taking place as they were too useful for the company to lose. In essence, the hassle was taken away from me but the culprit was never punished.

And here, with the Fitzgerald case and that of Karagh Fox, we see how the law is used in such cases – and out-of-court settlement on one hand, and the implied threat of legal action on the other.

Is it any wonder that workplace bullying is on the rise?

It’s time for company executives to take a hard look at themselves and the people who work for them. Everyone they employ is a valuable resource otherwise, in this straitened times, they wouldn’t be there. So, if they fall into difficulties, why not try a little understanding?

As Miss Fitzgerald herself said: “It cannot be managed without the help and encouragement of those I work for.”

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