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Friday, 20 May 2016

Another Brent Council Investigation

Brent Council's Chief Executive has announced an investigation into the circumstances around the death of Cllr Tayo Oladapo and the strange way in which Brent Council seems to have handled it.

This is a scandal in which questions of timing are crucial.  Tayo's death was eventually announced by the Council on 11 March 2016.  The inquiry was announced at the Council AGM on 18 May 2016.  It has therefore taken the Chief Executive many weeks before concluding that an inquiry should be launched.  A cynic might wonder if the time is related to the appearance of the story in the Evening Standard

We have been here before of course.  In the notorious Rosemarie Clark case there was a prolonged period during what appeared to be efforts to suppress the story were made.  Once significant damage had been done, an inquiry was announced.  I was personally assured by Cllr Butt that the inquiry would deal with the case.  It turned out that the inquiry was specifically designed not to deal with it, which is said to have caused Cllr Mike Pavey some frustration.  In that case, the inquiry struck me as just a way for Cllr Butt to reduce the political heat.  Let us hope that this inquiry is not a similar tactic.

One of the things that guarantees that the Standards Committee inquiry will be inadequate is that it will only have a remit to deal with the Council.  I think both the Labour Party and the Labour Group need to take a long hard look to make sure that this kind of thing cannot happen again.

I say this as it seems to me that the whistleblower who revealed the whole thing to the Standard was put in a deeply unfair position, and the Labour Party (as an employer) needs to make sure it behaves properly towards its employees.  The Party and the Group also need to worry about accountability.  It seems highly likely to me that a lot of lying has been going on.  Leaving that to one side, Group officers appear not have been aware of what was going on when they really should have been.  To simply ignore all this is a deeply inadequate response.

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