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    Lesson on how NOT to do it from HM Government - and we're not talking about Coronavirus!!

    Lesson on how NOT to do it from HM Government - and we're not talking about Coronavirus!!

    I despair. Truly I do. Has HM Government not being listening to a word we’ve said in these e-bulletins? I ask you – what is the point!

    I am of course referring to Priti Patel and specifically the allegations of bullying against her. To recap, a hornets nest has been stirred up by the shock resignation of giant-slayer civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam who’s now threatening a claim of constructive dismissal against the Home Office. The nerds amongst us will be forgiven for raising a technicality here – does Rutnam have the status of an employee to make such a claim? (I haven’t researched the point exhaustively, but my guess is he is an Officer of the Crown without such protection, but would be able to make an equivalent claim in the context of whistleblowing – how exciting!).

    But this is missing the point by a country mile - what of the Government’s response in all of this?

    At this point we have to go back to the Commons yesterday, and Michael Gove’s statement to the House. His utterings were truly remarkable in giving every employer a masterclass in how not to go about a fair investigation. To be clear, a fair investigation of any kind requires impartiality, or at least a resemblance of pretence of this. I know this, you know this, in fact everyone knows this except, it would appear, good old Gove.

    To be clear, when acting impartially a party does not heap praise on and voice support for a colleague accused of bullying whilst also announcing a full investigation into those allegations. Moreover, you do not do so when your de facto position in Government is the head of the very department charged with undertaking the same investigation. No, no, no!

    The trouble is that in practice we lawyers see prejudgement in the management of disciplinary and grievance investigations on a daily basis. Our wearisome repost is always the same; “if you’re going to do it, for heaven’s sake do it properly!” It’s not only about doing the right thing but being seen to do the right thing. HMG would do well to take note and I am available for bespoke training sessions should Dominic C feel the urge to give me a call.

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