WCHP – Impartiality?

Early in the investigation one witness reported the JM had made derogatory remarks about John Holmstrom, Chief Executive and Investigating Officer.  Despite the conflict of interest JH decided that he would continue the investigation.

JM was the former Housing Manager at WCHP who was dismissed for gross misconduct. At tribunal it was decided that the dismissal was unfair.

This was raised by JM as a conflict of interest.  JH refuted this on two counts.  He stated that he did not investigate this allegation.  However, the transcripts of the interviews shows that he asked every interviewed member of staff if they witnessed remarks about him [JH].  Also during an interview (quote shown below) JH states that he ignored this and it did not effect his judgement.  I’m not convinced that is a decision for him to make…

In the extract below, JM is the dismissed Housing Manager, JC is the former HR Manager (who strangely retired half way through the process), SR was the Deputy Head of Trustees, JH is the Chief Executive and investigating officer.

SR asked JH what did you do, and why, when you were told JM had allegedly criticised you? JH explained this came out during the pre-investigation. JC and JH had to resolve who would be the Investigating Officer and discussed, working very quickly. The actual criticism felt the most minor and although not great it was not on the same scale of client treatment, racism and bullying and JH queried if it should even be part of the investigation at all. JH discussed this with JC and resolved it wouldn’t be a big feature of the investigation and decided not to include for the investigatory report. JH is confident that these alleged criticisms of him didn’t affect his role and objectivity.

SR asked JH if JH felt there was a conflict of interest. JH explained JH considered the potential conflict and balanced this with other interests but after talking with JC, JH couldn’t find a better course of action. JH explained JH did not delve into that area in his witness interviews. JH explained this awareness did not affect JH’s ability to be objective.

JM also raised concerns that from the outset JH was looking to dismiss her, and that he just wanted to find some evidence to achieve this (this was also the conclusion of the Tribunal Judge).  The section from the same interview with John Holmstrom appears to suggest that from the outset of the investigation he believed that JM was guilty, in fact there was “no doubt in his mind at all” that the accusers were telling the truth.

In the extract below, JM is the dismissed Housing Manager, CM was a student social worker, PD was the Assistant Housing Manager, GP was a project woker, LR is the Head of Trustees SR was the Deputy Head of Trustees, JH is the Chief Executive and investigating officer.

LR asked JH about the start of the investigation and the conversations with the 3 people, whether there was any doubt of truth or if people were just getting at JM? JH explained he did not consider there to be any doubt of truth because CM came over as very measured, a mature student with no interest in pursuing a personal gripe; conversely this has in fact disrupted CM’s study. With regard to PD, PD unburdened herself, it was very emotional. With regard to Georgina Parish, GP had no idea why the meeting was taking place and PD and GP were very careful to be balanced in their account. No doubt in JH’s mind at all.

Fair? Christian? Honest?

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