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Suspended Senior Officers Silenced by Confidentiality Agreement

Published on: 9 May, 2012
Updated on: 17 May, 2012

The entrance to Guildford Borough Council offices at Millmead where Strategic Director Jim Miles worked.

The full story of the suspension of Strategic Director Jim Miles and his wife Elaine, a Guildford Borough Council solicitor, is being stifled by a confidentiality agreement signed between them and the borough council. This is the information that has been given to the Guildford Dragon by several sources within and without the council including Alderman Gordon Bridger.

Mr Bridger said: “Jim and Elaine Miles were seen by several colleagues at the  Millmead offices to have been escorted from the premises when their suspension was initiated. However, I understand from very reliable contacts that the offences of which they were accused could not possibly be considered as ‘gross misconduct’, which is usually the justification for suspending employees in this way.”

The information corroborates other reports received by The Guildford Dragon. Days after accounts of the suspensions were published Jim Miles issued a statement saying that he had taken early retirement for health reasons and that his wife had also retired to support him.

Mr Bridger went on to say: “Jim and Elaine Miles have served the council well for many years, Jim was responsible for overseeing the huge task of the construction of G Live, and I am sure that their annual reports, if examined, will record their good work.

“To suddenly subject them to the humiliating experience of being marched out like criminals, is unbelievable, more appropriate to a Soviet dictatorship. Whatever the misdemeanors they may have been charged with they could not have been that serious and therefore the law which requires staff to be given a verbal and then two verbal warnings should have been implemented. This being the case, their effective dismissal must be deemed as illegal.”

It is understood that Jim and Elaine Miles were not only allowed to retire with their pensions intact but were given some sort of enhanced financial package. Observers suspect that the Chief Executive, who was the only person senior enough to have ordered the suspensions, may have acted incorrectly or prematurely and the confidentiality agreement was arranged to limit embarrassment and prevent any counter claim from the Miles’.

Mr Bridger continued: “This ejection of these senior long-standing, well thought of public servants reaches a new low in the behaviour of the council towards its staff. The Miles’ must be given a chance to explain and defend themselves, regardless of whether they have been silenced by a large remuneration package.

“The message it sends to other council staff explains the fear and demoralisation which has swept this once well regarded institution. I do not believe that many, if any, councillors knew of this decision before action was taken and they must be appalled by it. It is their chance to take back the council, and insist on decent standards of justice for its employees.”

Guildford Borough Council continues to maintain a wall of silence on the matter, saying only: “We cannot comment on staff matters.”

Another Alderman and former mayor, Lynda Strudwick, said: “For some years I was the councillor for Arts & Culture and worked with Jim Miles. In my opinion he has always been a very good officer. He gave extremely good service to the council and he certainly doesn’t deserve to be treated like this.

“The so-called incident that led to him being suspended was extremely trivial and I think it is something most employers wouldn’t even comment on. I think for him to have been treated like this was appalling, completely wrong and unjustifiable.

“Senior officers in any organisation don’t just work 9 to 5. They have to work many unpaid hours of overtime. I think it is extremely odd behaviour by the council.”

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Responses to Suspended Senior Officers Silenced by Confidentiality Agreement

  1. Monica Jones

    May 21, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Surrey Advertiser 18 May 2012

    ‘Council Quashes Miles Rumours’

    I quote: ‘A spokesman said” We are able to correct rumours and inaccurate statements made by others and reported on line,” he added. “It has been suggested staff were escorted from our offices by a private security contractor, this is not true.” ‘

    Perhaps who did the escorting is “not true” but is he saying that the numerous staff who witnessed this alleged escorting should have gone to Specsavers?

    How does the old saying go? ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time…’

  2. Ollie Clokie

    May 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I wondered if I was being exceptionally dim – for me the important part of the story was not how the security staff were employed. The fact that respected and long serving council Officers were humiliated in front of their colleagues and this was not considered to be a matter of public interest, is surely astonishing. If their crime was so serious that this was the most appropriate response, then clearly we, the public (who in one way or another pay for everything that the council do), should be told.
    As is so often the case, how our money is spent running our town is considered to be none of our business.