Whilst Parliament awaits the publication of the Sue Gray report which, many predict, will spell the end of Boris Johnson’s premiership, a secret report will be discussed by a small group TDC councillors on Wednesday which might also lead to the booting out of council boss Madeline Homer, and possibly her said to be boyfriend, Corporate Director Gavin Waite.
The report produced by independent monitoring officer Quentin Baker, follows on from last year’s damning condemnation of TDC’s senior management team by the council’s external auditors Grant Thornton.
Grant Thornton’s report, and presumably Quentin Baker’s, considered the findings of at least 8 independent investigations, the evidence of senior whistle-blowers and trade unions, and the testaments of many victims of Homer and Waite’s alleged bullying.
I have not seen Baker’s report and have absolutely no knowledge of its contents. However, the vast amount of information already circulating in the public domain about Homer and Waite’s alleged mismanagement, abuse of power, and bullying of TDC staff is sufficient to hazard a guess about its contents, and to speculate about its conclusions.
Here's my own take on what the secret report might cover and the likely consequences For Homer and Waite once all councillors have seen it.
Bullying & abuse of process
By far the biggest issue faced by Quentin Baker are the numerous complaints and allegations of bullying and abuse by Madeleine Homer and Gavin Waite. These complaints are substantial, cover several years, and much is already in the public domain about them.
There is a large body of evidence which suggests that Homer, Waite , and the recently sacked monitoring Officer Tim Howes, manipulated and abused their power to prevent the fair and proper management of grievances and complaints made against the trio, including the use of expensive gagging orders to prevent departing staff from speaking about their ill treatment.
How Mr Baker will deal with this matter I don't know. But Putting myself in his place I would, on the basis of the evidence I have seen, find it impssoble not to conclude that on the balance of probabilites, Homer and Waite are egregious workplace bullies.
Much has been written about the alleged relationship between
CEO Homer and Corporate Director Waite. The council has steadfastly refused to say whether the pair have declared that they are, or have been, in a relationship and if so when.
What Mr Baker might say about this serious matter I don’t know.
Personally I believe that there was a relationship between the two, which, contrary to TDC’s constitution went undeclared for quite some time. If I’m right this means CEO Homer and Waite placed themselves in a conflicted position which would be grossly unprofessional, dishonest, and against TDC rules.
A vindictive Police report?
The documents which were presented to councillors at the meeting which sacked Tim Howes revealed that he had submitted a crime report to the police alleging that the former Deputy Chief Executive, Tim Willis had fraudulently submitted expenses claims totalling £2,300.
Mr Howes is said to have discussed the matter with Madeline Homer prior to the submission of the Police complaint. However the evidence suggests that she appears to have allowed the complaint to go forward without checking the veracity of the allegations, which in any case were quickly dismissed by the council internal audit service and the police.
It’s worth noting that the complaint to the Police was submitted shortly after Homer had, much to her displeasure, been ordered by councillors to reinstate Deputy CEO Mr Willis following her wrongful decision to unfairly suspend him from work for six weeks in late 2019.
Many have said that the fraud complaint was part of a “get Willis” campaign, which might explain Homer’s decision not to carefully scrutinise Tim Howes’ fraud complaint.
I don’t know what Mr Baker is going to make of this, but I find it hard believe that a Chief Executive would allow a report of fraud relating to his/ her Deputy to be lodged with the police without first conducting a thorough investigation. Such a serious failure is in my book gross misconduct.
The role of councillors
Over several years the late Steve Coombes, and I broke several stories about Homer and Waite’s alleged bullying and abuse of power at TDC. Sadly, apart from a few exceptions, most councillors refused to call for action to end what they knew was going on.
Their failure to act makes those spinless nodding donkeys complicit in, and supportive of a regime which has been described as by investigators aa a “culture of fear” and which several victims of Homer and Waite’s reported bullying, have told me, caused them untold suffering and misery.
The blame for this appalling failure to tackle these issues lies at the door of former Tory council leader Bob Bayford and his successor former Labour council leader “Raging” Rick Everitt.
These so-called politicians were in possession of considerable and compelling evidence relating to the behaviour of Homer and Waite, yet both failed to exercise leadership by taking swift and focused action to deal with the allegations.
I very much hope that Mr Baker’s report will name and shame those councillors who were in positions to do something about the alleged bullying and abuse power by Homer and Waite, but who chose not to so, allowing the problem to continue and grow.
The cost of bullying
Apart from the horrendous suffering of those who were the victims of Homer and Waite’s alleged bullying, the tax payers of Thanet are forced to pay a very high price for their alleged wronging of top council bosses.
Well over a £1 million of taxpayers money has been spent on investigations, legal fees , and non-disclosure agreements related to the alleged actions of Homer and Waite.
I believe that much more is yet to spent before this scandal is finally brought to an end.
I cannot see how Mr Baker’s report could possibly overlook these costs and associate them with the alleged misconduct of TDCs “toxic two”
My understating is that Mr Baker’s report will not make any recommendations or proposals in relation Homer, Waite, or anyone else. However, its finding and conclusions can be used by councillors to initiate disciplinary against senior officers if they feel justified to do so.
Based on my extensive reporting of this matter over 4 years, the reporting of Steve Coombes, and the documentation I have read and the discussions I have had. I would be astounded if Mr Baker’s report does not provide enough material to being about the suspension from work of Homer and Waite and the commencement of a disciplinary investigation.
There are other matters related to the report, such as its secrecy, which I will raise in future articles. I will also be writing about whether or not public money should be used to reward workplace bullies and whether workplace bullies should be provided with references from their formenrt employers which allow them to continue their despicable activities elsewhere.
I never ever reveal my sources