Behind the story of arrested Westminster City Council whistleblower.
The recent exposure in the Evening Standard of a Westminster City Council Shop Steward and Street Warden John Gilroy who was arrested over the alleged theft of two pieces of A4 sheets of paper from City Hall has led Nutsville to uncover a culture of bullying, obfuscation and mismanagement at the highest levels of the council – in apparent collusion with the Metropolitan Police.
This post is about what led up to senior Westminster City Council staff believing the correct way of treating a whistleblower was to have his house searched and then for him to be arrested. And not just arrested by some local officers, but by two high ranking Met Police officers who travelled to the very outskirts of London into an area covered by a different police force. In spite of their best intentions it seems they were thwarted when the CPS dropped the case. We base our post on the numerous documents we have received and interviews with those both involved and surrounding the case.
Sadly, as ever with Westminster Council the story is both comical and dark and it falls somewhere between Schindlers list and a penguin bar joke
We start with another Westminster City Council Street Warden which we will call Mr S, who in June of 2013 made a complaint to his employer the Council. The substance of the complaint was that he was being harassed over his disability by a colleague. That colleague was a New South Wales (Australian) Police Officer on secondment to Westminster City Council, who has since left the Councils employment.
Mr S had made what is called a ‘protected act’ which is supposed to have prohibited senior officers at Westminster City Council from victimising or discriminating against him any further. Nevertheless, in the space of just one week Mr S was suspended by his boss, council officer Dean Ingledew (Operational Director of Street Management). Mr S had his work computer removed from City Hall. The Council implied that the purpose of removal was for refurbishment. It subsequently turned out that this was a ruse as the Council were on a fishing trip to find something to pin on Mr S. Unfortunately for the Council this was discovered when they were forced to disclose documents for a forthcoming tribunal. It was as a result of this disclosure the real reason for the computers removal became clear. It was to have the machine forensically examined in an effort to try to discover if Mr S’s computer had been used to view or download pornographic material. This outsourced examination proved to be an expensive waste of taxpayer’s cash, as nothing was found on Mr S’s computer other than Mr Clippy.
In August 2013 Mr S made a formal complaint to Westminster City Council that the decision of Ingledew to suspend him constituted victimisation and was plainly as a consequence of him complaining of discrimination by the seconded Police officer. Mr S issued proceedings in the Employment Tribunal in October 2013.
Turning now to Dean Ingledew, after leaving Bishop Ramsey CofE School in 1977, Ingledew joined the Metropolitan Police where he worked his way up the ranks for over thirty-years until he retired in 2008. It was then he switched from working at Charing Cross Police station to working for Westminster City Council and took up a position with the Council as their Director of Community Protection.
It wasn’t long before Ingledew’s management style soon brought him into conflict with staff and the Union when in his first year he attempted to have all the Council’s staff fingerprinted. Facing threats of industrial action, Union pressure and bad publicity Ingledew had to back down and the Orwellian fingerprinting scheme was dropped. One feels that should he have succeeded it was only a short stop before the collection of DNA, sperm count and shopping habits would have been imposed.
From interviews with staff they have told of us that they had been used to leadership by consent. But over the years to the present day a more military type ‘do as I say, don’t think for yourself‘ style of management has filtered down from senior staff which is now overwhelmingly made up of managers from either a forces or police background.
Ingledew himself has been described by some staff as a dictator who needed to ‘micro manage’ subordinates. This led to a backlash from front line staff, who understandably felt they couldn’t operate under such conditions.
That style of management would explain why at present the Council are dealing with an unprecedented number of grievances and disciplinaries from Street Management staff. These ‘live actions’ as they are called are currently taking up a huge percentage of the Councils resources. We are also told that the vast majority of these live actions stem from bullying, harassment and the mismanagement of the Council’s Street Management staff.
It was during one of these disputes in June 2013 when Mr Gilroy, a Union Shop Steward representing a female staff member, claims that Ingledew first threatened him with dismissal. Gilroy reported this incident to the Council’s HR team, who at a mediation meeting between Gilroy and Ingledew, witnessed Ingledew making the alleged sacking threat again.
Following that meeting Gilroy submitted a formal grievance to his bosses detailing in full the serious accusation that Dean Ingledew had threatened an official Union member with dismissal as a consequence of him performing his duties.
Whilst this was happening other Union members complained to John Gilroy about the behaviour of another two senior managers working under Ingledew’s control. It was alleged that these two managers who at the time were working on the night shift had falsified documents to fraudulently claim thousands of pounds in extra overtime payments.
In August 2013 Gilroy along with another Union official contacted Westminster City Council’s Fraud line sending an email titled ‘Whistle blowing – Request for Investigation’. This email not only alleged that the two managers were falsely claiming overtime, but that other senior Council officers (by implication Ingledew as well) were colluding in the overtime fraud by turning a blind eye to the alleged practice. John Gilroy has told us that he had photographs of documents such as payslips to substantiate these allegations. This material was stored on his telephone the significance of which became clear after his arrest.
Even though the Council has since acknowledged that the complaint made by the two Union Officials raised potentially criminal matters, over eight months have passed with the Council still having to conclude their internal audit. This is despite the Council’s own policy on conducting internal audits, which states that they should be completed within six months.
We have however received allegations from other members of staff that one of the two night managers at the centre of the audit investigation has boasted about paying off his mortgage, and now only has to work day shifts.
Meanwhile Mr S asked Gilroy to act as his union representative in his forthcoming grievance and disciplinary hearing after Mr S complained of the decision of Ingledew to suspend him. The grievance was addressed to Ingledew’s line manager, Mr Leith Penny (Strategic Director for City Management).
In a bizarre decision Penny left it to Ingledew to handle Mr S’s complaint. So perhaps unsurprisingly in September 2013 Ingledew chose one of his own subordinates Jonathan Rowing to investigate the complaint against Ingledew. Before Rowing had even met with Mr S he committed his thoughts to two pieces of A4 paper.
On one of the handwritten pages were the words ‘probably guilty’.
Rowing’s handwritten notes were potentially incriminating, which Gilroy’s legal team believes show the existence of a culture within the Council of failing to properly investigate complaints. Gilroy alleges that after Rowing finished his day shift he left the two A4 sheets of paper in plain view on his desk. This casual filing of the document allowed all the other staff who worked in the same open plan office to see the contents. Gilroy has said he came across these two pages of handwritten notes and recognised their significance and the impact on the outcome it would have for Mr S. He tells us he took the two pages of A4 notes with the intention of making a copy and then returning them to City Hall.
Later during Police questioning John Gilroy was to learn that the Council was attempting to portray his actions as a kind of Oceans 11 type heist, carried out at night (Gilroy worked the nightshift) breaking into Rowing’s desk under the watchful gaze of the Councils CCTV cameras which are plastered over most of the inside of City Hall. You can’t miss them, but the Council seem to have missed providing any CCTV photographic evidence to back up their Hollywood version of events so far.
At roughly the same time, Gilroy was in possession of an email authored by the Council’s senior employment lawyer who according to Artisan Law (Gilroys legal team) showed that it was clearly the policy of Westminster City Council to threaten those who complained of discrimination to the Employment Tribunal, with costs.
That email, dated 23rd September 2013 according to Artisan Law made it clear that if either Gilroy or Mr S submitted a complaint to the Employment Tribunal the Council would, as per policy, straight away threaten them with costs. Artisan Law state that at the time that the Council’s employment lawyer wrote the email she would not have been aware of the merits of either Gilroy’s or Mr S’s complaint. She had no evidence why either one of them would want to go to the Employment Tribunal and she didn’t not know either Gilroy or Mr S. That is important because costs are very rarely awarded at Employment Tribunals. When costs have been awarded it has normally been shown that the individual bringing the claim was acting in a vexatious or unreasonable manner.
Is the threat of costs without knowing the facts just a hidden policy of intimidation at Westminster Council?
John Gilroy’s arrest.
At 8:30am on the 3rd of October 2013 two senior Met Police officers arrived at Gilroys Chingford home on the outskirts of London. They then searched it and arrested him in front of his family and took him to Charing Cross Police Station. Bearing in mind the gravity of the allegations one wonders why they stopped short of having men wearing black balaclavas abseiling through the roof.
John Gilroy was arrested on the grounds that he had stolen two pages of A4 handwritten scribbles. With the involvement of very senior Met Police officers the arrest didn’t go unnoticed down at Charing Cross nick. We have been told that some staff and Gilroy’s appointed duty solicitor were incredulous at the high ranking effort poured into two A 4 sheets of paper. The duty solicitor repeatedly asked the arresting officers what the public interest was in pursuing the case. As we mentioned earlier, under questioning Gilroy learnt that the story had been spun that he had somehow stealthily crept into City Hall under the cover of darkness and like Raffles, had forced an entry into Rowing’s desk and then stolen two of Rymans finest items of stationary upon which were such secrets the Monarchy might fall. We note that at Rymans the stationers two sheets of A4 paper can be had for less than a penny per sheet.
Can you imagine an ordinary member of the public reporting a used lost biro which is maybe a bit chewed at one end receiving the same level of service from the Metropolitan Police?
In case you’re in any doubt as to the fanciful nature of this arrest we should point out that at no point did the arresting officers or the Council provide a scintilla of evidence to show that Gilroy broke into Rowing’s desk. The Council have not even sent Rowing’s desk which they claimed was broken into, for repairs.As anyone can see, either we have a thief of such devilish ingenuity that they can express their way into a locked desk without so much as a scratch, or Westminster are making it up.
Prior to the arrest Westminster City Council never sought an explanation over the two sheets of A4 paper from Gilroy. The CPS decided in a space of less than a month that there was no public interest in pursuing the case against Gilroy.
Artisan Law had requested full disclosure of all documents from both the Met’s legal directorate and Westminster City Council. They say from the documents they have so far it raises very serious questions regarding the conduct of another senior officer of the Met. This is DCI James Harman whose remit covers Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) and Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) at New Scotland Yard, who they have discovered was heavily involved in the arrest of John Gilroy.
After the CPS decision DCI Harman contacted Ingledew in an email offering help securing ‘disclosure of material’ related to Gilroys arrest. DCI Harman also felt it necessary to copy that email to Detective Superintendent Kevin Southworth. Remember that Ingledew was working for the Council and was not a serving police officer and would not have had access to this assistance.
What Westminster City Council received from the Met was the contents of John Gilroys personal mobile phone taken from him at Charing Cross Police Station. The phone contained around 1700 personal photographs and his Mother’s medical records. It also contained around 30 work related photographs of payslips relating to the alleged overtime fraud.
Subsequently Gilroys phone has been returned to him wiped of all his property. Neither Westminster City Council or the Met have returned John Gilroy’s other property (his photographs) to him.
If it were not already odd that DCI Harman felt he needed to assist Westminster City Council in the disciplinary case against John Gilroy, on the 17th October 2013 DCI Harman had a meeting with Dean Ingledew, Peter Large (the Council’s Head of Legal) and Leith Penny.
The minutes of that meeting would make interesting reading, if any were kept.
Dean Ingledew’s swan song.
Back October 2013 we learnt that Ingledew was to leave the employment of Westminster City Council to spend time on his yacht. Rumours also circulated of a pay-off of between £100,00 and £300,000.
At least in part there was some validity in the rumours as on the morning of 5th November Westminster City Council had booked the Odeon Leicester Square. Around 200-300 attended made up of staff from Street Management and Built Environment.
On stage were Dean Ingledew and Leith Penny. There’s nothing some people who believe they hold power like better than leaving behind a legacy, and this was what this ‘get together’ was mainly about, Ingledew was retiring or leaving (nobody was quite sure which). We hear that the event turned out to be a bit of a damp squib for Ingledew, as when taking questions from his conscripted audience, all they really wanted to know was when was he going. When Ingledew did finally announce he was to leave in March 2014, he received the strongest applause of the morning’s event. He told staff he would not be taking up any other post, and that his wife had wanted to spend more time with him.
Blame her indoors?
As part of the fact checking we do, Nutsville wanted to know if the Councillors had been told of Ingledews departure, so we emailed one of the Council’s more responsive Councillors on the 8th November. As he knew nothing of the changes he asked Leith Penny. We received a reply back on the same day which was just three days after Penny attended the Odeon staff meeting telling us that Penny had said “Dean has not resigned nor will be retiring, there is no pay off “ After that we became as confused as a blind lesbian in a fish market.
On Friday 2nd May 2014 John Gilroy attended his disciplinary hearing. Lawyers working for Gilroy questioned Penny, questioned him so well that we are told that Penny’s old childhood affliction returned with him stuttering or maybe spluttering like Daffy Duck at the indignity of being asked such difficult questions.
But what is of concern is that Penny produced a document during the meeting, which had not been previously disclosed.
So it seems Artisan Law were right in their suspicions that Westminster City Council is still holding back documents. Isn’t that called a breached disclosure, opps.
John Gilroy awaits the outcome of his disciplinary hearing in around ten days’ time.
Both John Gilroy and Mr S along with one other we haven’t yet mentioned, all have hearings booked with the independent Employment Tribunal.
Artisan Law have sent complaints to both the IPCC and the Metropolitan Police Directorate of Professional Standards concerning the conduct of the officers involved in the arrest of John Gilroy.
If Westminster City Council pursue this to the bitter end, you can be sure we’ll be there to tell you all about it. And as for Rowing an important question remains outstanding – why didn’t he use both sides of one sheet instead of two separate A4 80g laser-ready, inkjet compatible pieces.
Was he two sheets to the wind?
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