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Monday, 16 May 2016

Brent Council Whistleblowing

I referred yesterday to the Evening Standard story on the death of Cllr Tayo Oladapo.  This was followed up by Martin Francis, who published the whistleblower's email that was the main basis of the story.  Like Martin, I had been told of this verbally, but it all seemed very far fetched.  The email's author will be obvious to anyone who is active in Brent Labour Party from the content.  Fortunately, she can no longer be subject to Cllr Butt retribution as she is no longer employed by Brent Labour Party.

The timeline appears to be:

29 January 2016:    Tayo died after a long illness.
22 February 2016:  Brent Council extended the period during Tayo could remain a councillor without attending meetings for a further six months. 
2 March 2016:       Cllr Butt asks the whistleblower to investigate whether Cllr Tayo is alive as he believed that Tayo had died and "had been dead for about a month".
4 March 2016:       The whistleblower discovers that Tayo was dead by asking the hospital.  She informed the London Labour Party, who told Cllr Butt on 7 March.  This was the same date as a Labour Group meeting.  According to the whistleblower "But Cllr Butt did not even mention Tayo at this meeting. At this point I started to become seriously concerned that this extremely serious issue was not being handled appropriately."  I have since confirmed with some one at the meeting, that Cllr Butt simply told the Group that he had "lost touch" with Tayo.  This differs again from the line in the whistleblower's account, that Cllr Butt told a smaller pre-meeting that the London Labour Party had told him a Brent councillor had died but he didn't know which one (I find it hard to imagine why he didn't ask them for a name, a surprising lcak of curiosity).  At some point around this time the London Labour Party seem to have been given the impression that Cllr Butt had contacted the police, although he had not in fact done so. 
8 March 2016:     Cllr Butt is reported as telling another meeting where the whistleblower was present that Tayo was not dead.  
11 March 2016:   Tayo's death was officially announced.

It is hard to read this account without concluding that Cllr Butt was behaving in a seriously underhand manner that he involved giving radically different accounts to different people.  It raises questions for the Labour Party, the Labour Group and the Council.

The Labour Party
The Labour Party, as an employer, should worry about the position that the whistleblower was put in.  It sounds to me that she  exhibited significant moral courage in difficult circumstances, but she should have had more support.  

It also seems to me to give the regional party a major problem in working out how to deal with a senior elected figure who behaves in such a frankly bizarre manner as to deny that some one is dead when they have good reason to know that he was.  I don't think the Labour Party's procedures cover this sort of thing, probably because no one had ever imagined such a situation.

The Party should also be concerned that Cllr Butt had previously been in contact with the family, but they had decided to no longer communicate with him.  The Party  needs to find out why this is, and whether Cllr Butt has done something to bring the Labour Party into disrepute.

Finbally, I can't help wondering what the other officer, such as the Labour Whip, were doing in relation to this matter.

Brent Council
Brent Council should investigate whether the Council was knowingly misled on 22 February.  Although the sums of money are small, I would have thought that anyone who knew of Tayo's death but said nothing may have left themselves open to a charge of fraud.

I must admit I have never heard of a case as bizarre as this.

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