Today I publish, with minor redactions, the full version of a secret report produced by the highly regarded and independent human resources consultancy Outset in July 2019.
Outset was commissioned by East Kent Human Resources and TDC to investigate serious allegations of bullying made by a senior council officer against the then TDC Chief Executive Madeline Homer and her boyfriend Corporate Director, Gavin Waite.
The investigation was thorough and robust. It included interviews with 20 members of staff, and the examination of file notes, photographs, emails and text messages. The investigation was carried out by an experienced human resources professional David Westell.
The report concluded that:-
Substantial evidence suggests that MH is perceived as volatile, that she does not treat some employees with respect, and has used her position and her communication style to create an intimidating and hostile environment which potentially accounts for the apparent fear and blame culture within Thanet District Council.
On the allegation of Bullying: There is substantial evidence that MH has used intimidating behaviour
and has misused her position of authority through means that undermine, humiliate and denigrate TK and others.
On the allegation of Harassment…. there is substantial evidence that MH has acted in a way which has led to the creation of an intimidating, degrading and humiliating environment for TK and others.
There is significant evidence that GW's actions and behaviour have not only demonstrated a lack of people management skills but have also played a significant part in creating an unpleasant working environment for others.
On the allegation of Bullying: There is substantial evidence that GW acted in a bullying manner towards TK and others. Similarly, there is substantial evidence that this led to undermining TK's and others' positions, thus unnecessarily causing subjective perceptions of humiliation and intimidation towards the recipients.
On the allegation of Harassment: there is substantial evidence that GW has acted in a way that may have led to the creation of a humiliating environment
I understand that the Westell report was just one in a series of independent reports about bullying by former Chief Executive Madeline Homer and her boyfriend Corporate Director Gavin Waite. It is said that at least eight reports into these allegations were produced between 2018-22. I have seen several of them.
I can tell you that the reports I have seen all conclude that on the balance of probabilities Homer and Waite are workplace bullies. I am also reliably informed that the reports I have not seen also make similar observations.
I can also state with confidence that the full and unredacted version of the most recent report – produced by Independent Monitoring Officer, Quentin Baker, in May 2022, but which the public is banned from seeing, also concludes that there is significant evidence to suggested that Homer and Waite were workplace bullies.
On the basis of these reports and other information I have been made aware of I honestly believe that both Madeline Homer and her boyfriend Gavin Waite were workplace bullies who intimidated, belittled, victimized and harassed council staff on multiple occasions over a period of several years.
But despite significant, and some would say, overwhelming evidence emerging about Homer and Waite successive council leaders - Tory Bob Bayford and Labour Rick Everitt - took no action against the couple.
It was only when current council leader Ash Ashbee took over from Everitt in June 2021, that things began to happen, resulting in Homer's departure from TDC, and Waiteds suspension from his job pending investigations into allgations about sexual discrimination and harrassment.
Although I have political differences with her, I pay public tribute to councillor Ashbee's determined and successful efforts to rid the council of bullies like Homer and hopefully Waite too.
Nevertheless, Homer has, in my opinion, escaped justice. Between 2018-2021 both Bayford and Everitt had sufficient evidence to suspend, investigate, and sack Homer and Waite for breaching the council’s dignity and work policy. But they didn’t.
Their failure to act led to a bill of at least £4million for multiple investigations, legal fees, severance payments and non-disclosure agreements, including Homer’s recent, taxpayer funded, £400k payoff deal. Perhaps it pays to be a workplace bully like Homer and Waite appear to be?
I understand that some might say the Westell report is confidential ansd should be not be disclosed. As a citizen journalist who has been holding TDC account for more than a decade, I say in response that there is an overwhelming public interest in publishing it.
After reading it, ask yourself if former Chief Executive and workplace bully Homer deserved her recent payout which cost in total at least £400k? The bill for which was footed by the public of Thanet.