16th August 2018
Here’s the original Freedom Of Information request and today’s response:
So taking each question one by one (Reading Council’s responses are in RED):
- Details of any settlement agreement issued which is connected to the
recent departure. Maura was employed as an interim and her temporary assignment came to an end. There was no settlement agreement.
- Did the settlement agreement contain a gagging clause? There was no settlement agreement
- All payments to the former employee in public money, bestowed in
connection with the departure. Nil.
- Total amount of these payments. Not applicable.
- Whether the departure from Reading was connected to the exposure of
proven Wirral Council abuse. No.*
- Whether a positive reference was / will be provided by the council for
use when seeking employment in the future. The Council will provide an accurate reference, on request from future employers.*
- On appointment, had the former employee undergone and passed the
government’s Disclosure and Barring requirements? Yes.
- Precise dates for the time period Maura Noone was employed at Reading
Council. 18/09/2017 – 11/07/2018.
- Details of all investigations / searches undertaken to satisfy the
council’s vetting procedure for this highly sensitive post. Checks were made regarding eligibility to work in the UK and qualifications. References were taken from previous employers. DBS checks were verified.*
- During the time period of the employment, details of all contacts
made, events / meetings attended which have risked compromising Reading
Council by foreseeably and avoidably placing a proven, abusive person (see
below) into such sensitive situations. None.
It’s very good news that Maura Noone was not gagged inside a settlement agreement, not paid off, and we applaud the council for not resorting to these options. However, did they need to?
It appears Noone may have been gagged in 2012, despite Wirral Council’s claim that no gag was used in response to an FOI request we made at the time.
To support the above contention of ours, here’s a clear instance of Wirral Council either making a serious mistake or deliberately lying in response to a similar FOI request:
We asked Wirral Council for a full list of compromise (settlement) agreements between the period January 2011 and December 2013. Their response in the table below clearly indicated that no compromise agreements were issued in August 2013.
…however we have in our possession a copy of a Wirral Council compromise agreement which was issued to a former employee, dated August 2013.
Wirral Council either lied or made a serious error in their response table above.
It is not beyond the bounds of reason to imagine that Reading Council may have lied here, however we accept it’s unlikely in regard to Questions 1 and 2, because if Wirral Council were knowingly lying or were incompetently issuing falsehoods in response to ours and others’ FOI requests, then Noone would already have been gagged and protected for life six years ago, in January 2012 as regards the question, “Is Noone an abuser of learning disabled people?”
So there’ll be no requirement to gag her all over again. It’s also an opportunity for the Council’s PR department to show how careful and judicious they can be in not freely squandering the contents of the Council tax payers’ bottomless pot of lovely, ready money.
Reading Council’s hasty removal of her as an employee (which it certainly was despite their denial) just a matter of weeks after her exposure on Wirral Leaks will not prevent her sailing through Central Government’s alleged “Disclosure and Barring” system again in the future and won’t stop her potentially picking up another plum role overseeing the welfare of many more hundreds of vulnerable people.
And this is where the “heart of darkness” and the sickness truly lies. This is all legal and this is all above board.
If this situation does arise again with Maura Noone or Mike Fowler, or with countless other unsignposted, unmonitored, hidden, protected, gagged abusers, it’ll be in some as yet unknown location in relaxed and easygoing UK local government and the charity sector, where power abuse and people abuse present no bars whatsoever to the progress of senior movers and shakers in post-Savile, post-Winterbourne View UK.
Lessons learned? Nah, not this time. And probably not next time either…
p.s. *These aspects will be appealed (or followed up separately) and we’ll be lodging an internal review request, as is our right**
**Our statutory right to place FOI and personal data requests was removed by Cheshire West and Chester Monitoring Officer @GoacherSimon in October 2009 until we won our legal case, had them restored 20 months later and sent him scurrying back to lick his wounds.
Update on 23rd January 2021
From 8 years ago today…in the Wirral News.