Thursday, 15 December 2011

How To Pervert The Course Of Justice?

Did Bury Council's H.R. Division Act In Bad Faith?

YESTERDAY Bury Council's Human Resources & Communications Division (HR) held an 'Investigation Interview' to discuss the following allegations of:
* Threatening & intimidating behaviour

* Contravention of the Dignity at Work Policy

against a Unite Safety Representative at Bradley Fold Waste Depot near Bury in Lancashire.

Ought a person, who may later be called as a witness in relation to an alleged event, be properly used by H.R. as an investigator in an 'investigatory interview' into the same event? A legal opinion sought by the trade union Unite claimed that it would be 'a breach of natural justice' for Bury Council's H.R. Division to use the potential witness Mick Morris, Senior Cleansing Manager at Bradley Fold Waste Depot., as an investigating officer into the case against a Bradley Fold Safety Representative, who is facing a complaint of 'Threatening & intimidating behaviour' as well as another separate allegation of 'Contravention of the Dignity at Work Policy'. Ursula Skinner, Senior H.R. Advisor at Bury MBC, brushed aside the legal challenge that Mick Morris may be called as a witness, arguing that she had sought the advice of her 'line manager' and had been told that it was irrelevant to the process. Ms. Skinner, on being asked as to who her 'line manager' was, failed to illuminate.

In correspondence with the Safety Representation who is under investigation, Ursula Skinner wrote: 'You have the right to be accompanied during the interview by you trade union representative or a work colleague who should not be involved in the investigation.' In this case Julie Burgess, the Unite Regional Officer, was allowed to represent the accused Safety Representative facing these charges, but his Bury Branch Secretary, Brian Bamford, who offered to observe and take notes was twice denied entry to the process of investigation by Ursula Skinner on grounds that are still unclear. And yet, Bury Council's Human Resources & Communications Division brought in Mr. Morris as in investigator, who has admitted to speaking to the accused around the time of the incident. When the union Unite made it clear that Mr Morris had a conflict of interest because he was likely to be a witness 'involved in the investigation' in one of the allegations against the Safety Representative under investigation, Ms. Skinner dismissed this as being irrelevant. The Regional Officer of Unite asked that both the banning of Mr. Bamford and the union's misgivings about the presence of Mr. Morris be minuted.

Does this represent a perversion of the course of justice by Ms. Skinner on behalf of the Human Resources Division & Communications at Bury Council?

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