Fringe Box



Council Officers Fingerprinted in Anonymous Letters Investigation

Published on: 27 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 30 Oct, 2013

Fingerprinting at Council 4Council officers have been fingerprinted by a private detective agency as part of an investigation into unsigned letters containing accusations of improper behaviour at Guildford Borough Council.

The claim was made in an anonymous letter, the last of a series of five received by The Guildford Dragon NEWS. Earlier letters were also sent to an unknown number of councillors. It is understood that other similar letters were received by some councillors before The Guildford Dragon NEWS was created.

The Dragon has since been told that certain council officers were asked to give fingerprints so that they could be eliminated from the enquiry, aimed at discovering the source of the letters.

The fourth anonymous letter received was passed by the Guildford Dragon NEWS editor, Martin Giles, to council leader Stephen Mansbridge because it contained specific allegations.

Subsequently, within weeks, a grievance procedure was initiated against David Hill by the former head of the human resources department, Judith Coslett. It is not known if the two events were related. The complaint made by Ms Coslett against former Chief Executive David Hill was, it is understood, wide-ranging.

David Hill has recently left Guildford Borough Council with a pay-off reported to be worth £160,000, although the amount has yet to be confirmed by the council. The council has said that the grievance procedure against Mr Hill had to be terminated as neither Ms Coslett or Mr Hill are, any longer, council employees.

Martin Giles, editor of The Guildford Dragon NEWS, said: “It is surprising that the council seems more concerned with catching the author of the letters, who clearly had no faith in the council’s  ‘whistle-blowing’ procedures, than addressing any bad management practices.

“We have, to date, not reported these letters to our readers because of their anonymous nature but it is now obvious that at least some of the claims they contain have substance.

“I know that the council is now trying to create a new working culture to go alongside the recently announced re-structure. This is a good thing and I have seen and had reported to me some evidence of a change of atmosphere.

“Everyone should want GBC to be a fair employer. A good working atmosphere amongst council staff can only help their effectiveness and efficiency. Something from which all Guildford residents should benefit.”

Council leader Stephen Mansbridge, who was open about an investigation taking place, commented: “Change should be evolutionary and so less noticeable. Where change is sudden, it can be upsetting to some, even though the intention and outcome are positive and welcomed by the majority.”

Last night (October 28) Guildford Lib Dem councillors admitted they knew nothing about the fingerprinting or even the investigation into the source of the letters. Speaking on behalf of the group, Cllr Zoe Franklin (Lib Dem, Stoke) said: “The Lib Dems were unaware of any fingerprinting undertaken as part of an investigation.”

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Responses to Council Officers Fingerprinted in Anonymous Letters Investigation

  1. Jane Milton Reply

    October 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    As a Guildford tax payer I would like to know what the cost of this ridiculous fingerprinting exercise is costing us? I would prefer my council to spend its money in better ways, facilities for the elderly spring to mind.

  2. Jayne Seymour Reply

    October 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Curiouser and curiouser!

  3. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    October 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    We have a situation where a grievance has been lodged against the chief executive, the chief executive and the person alleging the grievance have both left their positions. The chief executive has received circa £160K pay off and we are not allowed any details of the grievance as both are now ex employees. Tidy.

    Meanwhile, someone is trying to disseminate information about the goings on at the council, and rather than deal with the issue(s) that someone feels should be made public, the focus is on catching the person who dares to blow the whistle.

    This is a despicable use of public funds. The council are spending money trying to identify the person who is leaking information, rather than worrying about what that information is and why someone would feel it their civic duty to disseminate it. It is the duty of people within the borough to ensure that the media do not lose sight of the real story here, not who is blowing the whistle, but why?

  4. Angela Gunning Reply

    October 31, 2013 at 9:06 am

    News of this investigation comes as a surprise. We [Lab Gp] knew nothing about it; we await any outcomes with interest.

    Angela Gunning is the borough councillor for Stoke ward and leader of the Labour Group.

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