Fringe Box



Updated: Council Refuses to Say if Non Disclosure Agreement Was Broken

Published on: 21 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 24 Apr, 2023

Tracey Coleman and Paul Spooner

By Martin Giles

A Dragon reader has queried whether a conversation between the Conservative leader at GBC Paul Spooner and a former head of planning at the council, has breached the non-disclosure agreement the former head was believed to have signed.

Wayne Smith said: “Interesting that Cllr Paul Spooner consulted with Tracey Coleman. She was the previous GBC Head of Planning who was allowed to resign in 2020 with a rumoured six-figure payoff and a gagging clause.

“The payoff was thought to be going to review by the full council in camera, as it exceeded the approval authority (£95,000) of the Employment Committee at the time, comprising Cllr Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem), Cllr Bigmore (R4GV) and Cllr Spooner (Con).

“Anyway, so much for the gagging clause.”

The published GBC accounts for 2020-21 show that the termination payment to Tracey Coleman the former Director of Strategy was in fact £95,000, the maximum permissible without referral to the full council.

An extract of GBC’s account report for 2020-2021 showing the termination payment to Tracey Coleman was £95,000.

The Dragon asked GBC whether Wayne Smith was correct and Tracey Coleman had broken the terms of her non-disclosure agreement by discussing historical council business with Paul Spooner and if so, what action will be taken?

After asking for an extra 24 hours to formulate a response a council spokesperson said: “We will not be providing comment on this matter.

But Paul Spooner was more informative. He said: “If there was a so-called “gagging order” I don’t know anything about it. And who put it in place?

“I thought James Whiteman [former managing director of GBC] got on with Tracey. Was she paid off?

“Is someone being mischievous? I know R4GV had issues with her but they had issues with James Whiteman and pretty much anyone attached to the previous administration in any capacity.

“Is the open and transparent R4GV agreeing gagging orders? To be honest I had no idea.”

Asked for his understanding of “gagging orders”, formally called non-disclosure agreements or “NDAs” Cllr Spooner responded: “NDAs are commonly used when senior officers are let go by mutual decision. The leadership only get involved at director level as the CEO or MD has responsibility for every other tier.

“In my time, I only had the retirement of Sue Sturgeon with no NDA requirement and Head of Legal Satish Mistry who I recall we used an external HR company to work with us to reach agreement.

“Another director moved on without issue. Otherwise, the churn has all been post May 2019.”

“If you are asking if there was a possibility for NDAs at GBC then the answer is yes.”

Archived Dragon articles from the time show that the council leader at the time Lib Dem Caroline Reeves refused to divulge details of the pay-off. Cllr John Rigg reported a lack of cooperation shown to him by Tracey Coleman.


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