Local news for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets whistleblowers – how to blow that whistle

By on November 2, 2016 in News, Tower Hamlets council

Note: This blog post has been updated, edited, polished, changed and slightly reduced in length since first published.

This statement is from the Tower Hamlets Communications Office.

“The  Clear Up project is not being managed by the Cabinet Office.

“The newly appointed project leader is here,  on secondment, and is independent.  However, his role has no link – direct or otherwise – to his job at the Cabinet Office.

Everyone happy now? Good. If only the Council press office responded to enquiries from LW with the speed with which they jump on LW cock-ups.

But then LW has stopped emailing the Press Office because (a) they take so long to respond and (b) their replies are devoid of information. This may explain a recent raising of editorial standards. That or the new brand of tea we are drinking in the office. 

Never thought we would be nostalgic for the days of Aberdeen resident Takki Sulaiman. 

If you know who the guilty are now is the time to stand up and say

The DCLG Commissioners at Tower Hamlets have made some changes to the whistleblowing procedures which will allow residents and Council employees past and present to do the right thing and say what they know about corruption in safety. A civil servant,James Richardson, on secondment from the Cabinet Office will now be running the Council’s ‘Clean-up’ team although it should be emphasised that he is independent of both Council and Cabinet Office.

The most important thing is that James Richardson has no connections with Tower Hamlets.

Main thing a whistleblower needs to know is this email address  clearupteam@towerhamlets.gov.uk and below are some handy tips.

LW Email security tips for whistleblowers

  1. If you do send an email to clearupteam@towerhamlets.gov.uk we would strongly advise you to restrict your email to the bare minimum – ‘Hello please contact me’ is probably good enough. You will then receive a response from the Clear-Up team advising you how they will contact you in future.
  2. If you are a Council employee do not use your Council email address to get in touch
  3. Do not use the Council IT network to send a personal email from a browser
  4. Do use a public wifi spot – LW finds Canary Wharf is good for this.

Please do not be put off by the above, this is just basic sensible security.

Full information can be found for whistleblowers can be found here on the Council website.

The full text of the letter from the Commissioners is given at the bottom of the page. Here is an extract of the key paragraphs:

“Although we dealt with the issues we received from whistleblowers by initiating key lines of enquiry which have resulted in changes to policies and procedures, for example purchase cards and recording of DBS checks, some of the cases fell outside the scope of the Directions for which the Commissioners have responsibility.

Commissioners intend to refer all the outstanding documentation they have previously received from you to the clear up team independent project manager, James Richardson. He can be contacted at clearupteam@towerhamlets.gov.uk.”

elaine-bagshaw-official

Elaine Bagshaw

“It’s fantastic that finally, LBTH staff have someone completely independent and untouched by the problems of the past 6 years to address the corruption and malpractice that we know has been prevalent in our Council,” said Elaine Bagshaw, Lib Dems Parliamentary Spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse.

It’s a shame it has taken the Commissioners and Council so long to get this in place. Let’s hope this will allow us to finally draw a line under the problems and to get the Council working properly for local residents.”

What’s a whistleblower?

A whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organisation that is either private or public.

Which covers most of what has happened under the Lutfur Rahman regime although LW would also add ‘incredible’, ‘beyond belief’ and ‘brazen contempt for the law of the land’ as well.

And so why is this probably the most significant step towards clearing up our proud borough since the electoral petition verdict?

Anyone with any knowledge of any wrongdoing in Tower Hamlets Council can now come forward and tell what they know with the confidence that any allegation will be treated independently of any politician or officer within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The previously announced independent corruption ‘Clear Up’ team was a good idea but poorly conceived. It was suggested that whistleblowers could contact the Council, DCLG Commissioners, Tower Hamlets police or your local councillor directly.

One minor detail being that if your councillor is one of the 17 16 (bye Shahed!) corruptly elected Tower Hamlets First councillors thejim-fitzpatrick-commonsy might not be the best person to forward allegations about their own party and administration.
This was one reason that LW publicised the option of getting directly in touch with Jim Fitzpatrick, our MP for Poplar and Limehouse (left) through this post ‘Help clean up Tower Hamlets – tell Jim what you know

Jim has done a huge amount of work on the problems in the Borough.

Contact the police? You having a laugh?

New_Scotland_Yard_sign_3The suggestion that anyone in Tower Hamlets would bother to contact the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) with any allegations of corruption is laughable.

The only thing the MPS have managed to do throughout this whole sorry saga is prove that as an institution they have no interest in dealing with the biggest threat to community cohesion in the history of London, not just the Borough.

Complacency would be the best motive the MPS may have for this disinterest.

Hell missed cough

Quite what the DCLG Commissioners opinion is of the MPS is not known, but sources say it rhymes with hell missed cough.

The institutional complacency of the MPS is in marked contrast to individual police officers that LW has dealt with over the last few years who without exception have been utterly professional. One office in particular, who cannot be identified, is owed a debt of thanks by every Borough resident, being of immense help to LW in 2014. Not sure Frozen helped much though?

Who guards the guardians?

Crazy as it may sound there is the belief that the very Council officers designated to investigate anything fishy in the Borough were covering up the very thing they were supposed to investigate. Weird huh? But this is Tower Hamlets.

The most important advice LW and his numerous Moles across the Borough can give to James Richardson is this:

  1. Just because you are told of something that is beyond credibility that does not mean it is untrue.
  2. Do not underestimate the scope and scale of corruption in the Borough. It is vast. And it is not restricted to the Council.
  3. Do not be distracted by allegations of religious extremism. This is all about criminality.

Letter from DCLG Commissioners re Whistleblowing Procedures

26th October 2016

Dear Colleague,

London Borough of Tower Hamlets – Whistleblowing Procedures

As you know when the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government intervened in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in December 2014, he put in place specific Directions under the responsibility of Commissioners.

As part of our work, the Commissioners have sought to promote a significant culture change in the Council to ensure that greater trust and transparency is embedded for the future.

We have encouraged a revision of the whistleblowing procedures to reflect the new leadership of the Executive Mayor and the three Statutory Officers.

The new whistleblowing policy came into force on 6th September 2016 and has been publicised within the Council and through the external communications arrangements. A copy of the revised whistleblowing policy can be found at: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Management/Enquiries-and-complaints/Whistleblowing_policy.pdf.

The Commissioners have been particularly keen to recognise the importance of the protection afforded to whistleblowers via the Prescribed Persons as set out in the Government guidance found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/510962/BIS–16–79-blowing-the-whistle-to-a-prescribedperson.pdf.

Whilst we are pleased to see the new whistleblowing policy and procedures that have been put in place, we are aware that some individuals who have raised matters with us in the past were concerned that the council would not take their concerns seriously.

In order to deal with such concerns, the Commissioners are pleased that the Council has set up a time limited “clear up project”. The details can be found at: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/News_events/News/September_2016/Council_Clear_Up_project_launched.aspx and these have been published both internally and externally as part of the Council’s communications strategy.

Although we dealt with the issues we received from whistleblowers by initiating key lines of enquiry which have resulted in changes to policies and procedures, for example purchase cards and recording of DBS checks, some of the cases fell outside the scope of the Directions for which the Commissioners have responsibility.

Commissioners intend to refer all the outstanding documentation they have previously received from you to the clear up team independent project manager, James Richardson. He can be contacted at clearupteam@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

We would be grateful if you would make contact with him to discuss the full details of your concerns so that he may formally record them and carry them forward.

The period for matters to be referred to the clear up team is limited until 8th December, after which the new whistleblowing procedures will be the route for all such matters.

The governance of the clear up project comprises the Council’s Statutory Officers together with one of the Commissioners, Chris Allison, to determine the route for dealing with the matters referred to it.

I hope the above is self-explanatory and provides you with reassurance that your concerns will be treated seriously.

Yours sincerely

Sir Ken Knight CBE QFSM

Lead Commissioner.

 


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