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Bonkers Blog June 2011

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27 June (Part 2) - Thames Innovation Centre (TIC)

Thames Innovation CentreTomorrow will be the first day of the claim for unfair dismissal at Ashford Employment Tribunal brought by the whistleblower at Bexley council’s Thames Innovation Centre. The whistleblower is still reluctant to have her name mentioned here because she wishes to distance herself as much as possible from what has been going on down there, she is apprehensive of reprisals. I shall call her B.

B worked at the Civic Centre as a temp but when the receptionist at TIC walked from her desk one morning and never came back, B was drafted in to fill the vacancy. Within a few months she had done so well that she was offered a permanent position on Bexley’s staff roll. She became aware of a love triangle among the staff there which she might well have accepted except that she was concerned that one of those involved was misdirecting post in favour of one of the others and that it was known that huge sums of money were going astray. B was worried that the events were linked and reported her concerns to her line manager but within days he was arrested by the police amid allegations of child pornography being found on his office computer.

One would have thought that the line manager might be suspended pending the police investigation but Bexley council decided to keep him on full time despite there being a mother and baby unit within TIC to which mothers inevitably bring their older children too. Bexley council still refused to suspend the alleged paedophile even after the police charged him. In fact he pleaded guilty to the charges but Bexley council never did see fit to sack him. He eventually resigned. Meanwhile B voiced her disquiet about the situation , her career took a dive and she was eventually sacked.

The stated reason for B’s sacking is not of course the fact that she was unhappy that Bexley council employed a paedophile in a building frequented by babies and young children, nor that she was concerned that letters and possibly money was being siphoned out of the system but that she was slow to provide personal ID as required by employment law and that she had not kept a rack of brochures and similar papers well stocked. What will happen tomorrow is unknown but I did notice that although B supplied the ID documentation later than at first asked she did supply it well within the extended time scale she requested and was granted. Given that she was officially excused the delay (for which there was a reasonable explanation) I can’t see how it becomes a sackable offence. The responsibility for the brochure rack is not mentioned in any job description so that is a bit of a grey area. Bexley council claims that it gave permission for post to be siphoned off through unusual channels so B was making a fuss over nothing. If that is true one must wonder why no one told B.

Having examined the papers I conclude that B may well have been unfairly dismissed. That’s not me of course, I would never attempt to prejudge a legal case especially one where one side can afford an expensive barrister and the other can afford nothing. Those words were extracted from Bexley’s own papers, once stated by one of B’s managers and again by those who dismissed B’s appeal.

 

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