What this blog is about…

This blog is a record of my experiences as an employee of the Association of Voluntary Services in Wrexham (AVOW) told largely through the words of the Employment Tribunal that found against AVOW in the case I brought.

See the about section for a bit of background.

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WISE Up Action - A Solidarity Network for Manning and Assange

Dedicated to Alison Taylor, who kept blowing the whistle in north Wales until people had no choice but to listen, and to whistleblowers everywhere.

Waterhouse not fit for purpose

In the wake of the outing of the late Jimmy Savile as a serial child abuser whose activities were facilitated by the BBC, health professionals, government officials and so on, the north Wales child abuse scandal is back in the headlines as the mainstream media finally picks up on the fact that the Waterhouse Inquiry wasn’t fit for purpose. This isn’t news to us here in north Wales – the news is that it’s getting some coverage at last.

Yet another Inquiry?

Some of us raise our eyes skywards at the prospect of more Inquiries that will guarantee big fat pay cheques for their officials (Waterhouse cost £13 million) and no promise of justice for abuse victims and whistleblowers. While…

View original post 4,196 more words

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No consequences for AVOW? Update on lack of developments since August.

Background

The Tribunal handed down its damning judgment on AVOW verbally at the last day of the hearing just over a year ago – on 14 March 2011. Three people representing AVOW were present: Chief Officer John Gallanders, employment legal adviser Sky Bibi and a man I did not know. In spite of just hearing the Judge rule that AVOW’s governance was seriously failing, with both the Chief Officer and the Trustees responsible for these failings, and that there was worrying evidence that these failings had not been addressed by the time of the hearing, AVOW went on to take over the management of another failing organisation: Plas Madoc Communities First. I believe it is now attempting to gain control of the successor to Communities First (Communities Next?) in some parts of Wrexham.

The written reasons for the Tribunal’s findings were handed down in August 2011, following which I sent copies to the regulatory bodies responsible for funding AVOW or overseeing its activities. These included Wrexham County Borough Council, The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the Welsh Government, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, the Charity Commission.

Seven months later, I am still waiting to hear how these bodies are responding to the situation which, as I see it, is that the same discredited Chief Officer and Trustees are running the show at AVOW with no indication and certainly nothing said in public (nor, as far as I can ascertain, to AVOW’s membership) that anything has changed. At first, no one would make any comment on the grounds that AVOW might appeal against the ruling. When that deadline had passed and, at the eleventh hour, AVOW announced it would not appeal, the bodies continued their studied silences, claiming in some cases that they now could not do anything until they had seen the results of an internal investigation AVOW was conducting. This despite the fact that AVOW would not reveal the terms of reference of its investigation, a decision backed up by the Charity Commission Wales that resisted a Freedom of Information request for this, even though it had been quoted in the press as being fully satisfied with these (secret) terms of reference. AVOW also refused to say how long the investigation would take nor whether its findings would be made public. So much for transparency! So much for accountability!

The latest responses

I reproduce here the latest correspondence with the various bodies.

Wrexham County Borough Council

By an amazing coincidence, AVOW’s latest reply to the council just happened to arrive on exactly the date that I sent this reminder email…

2 March 2012

Dear Mr Isted

It is now over three months since you wrote to me regarding AVOW and the Wrexham Charter of Belonging.

You wrote as follows: “I have written to AVOW regarding your complaint, asking them to advise me on what actions they are taking to address any concerns raised under the Charter. I will contact you again when I have received and considered AVOW’s response.”

Please will you update me on the position?

Yours sincerely

Genny Bove
cc Mark Isherwood and Aled Roberts, AMs.

Lawrence Isted’s reply:

5 March 2012

Dear Ms Bove

I have written to AVOW on a number of occasions asking them to update me on progress. Their latest reply on 2nd March indicates that the AVOW Board will receive final reports on the matter on 8th March and that they will then be able to draft a considered response to the Council. As promised, I will write to you when I have received and considered their reply.

Regards,

Lawrence Isted,
Head of Community Wellbeing and Development, Wrexham County Borough Council
(01978 292500)

I also met with my councillor Simon Meyers and councillor/AM Aled Roberts in a constituency walkabout last week. Simon told me that he had got ‘not very far’ in finding out what the council’s response to AVOW was. Unfortunately, he had neglected to tell me this. Aled said that he was not aware of any action whatsoever by council officers in relation to AVOW. This despite Celia Hart telling me back in November that I had ‘no idea’ how hard everyone in the council was working ‘behind the scenes’ on my behalf. See also this page and associated links. I have asked Aled to make enquiries to discover what these completely opaque and secret actions, that concerned me but that no one has seen fit to inform me of, might have been. Equalities Manager Celia Hart is, interestingly, the special guest speaker at AVOW’s next general meeting on 27 March.

My Assembly Member Ken Skates

My email:

2 March 2012

Dear Ken

It is now nearly five months since you wrote to me (see below) regarding AVOW and the Employment Tribunal.

As you probably know, AVOW did not appeal the findings but set up an internal inquiry to look at the issues raised.

I trust that AVOW has furnished you with a copy of its inquiry findings. If not, I would be grateful if you could pursue the matter.

Once you are appraised of the situation, please can you let me know what AVOW’s response was and whether you judge it to be sufficient?

Many thanks

Genny Bove

cc Mark Isherwood and Aled Roberts, AMs

The previous email from Ken Skates:

Dear Genny,

Many thanks for your response, which was comprehensive and very informative.

I hope we will know very soon whether an appeal is being lodged. I think we need to wait for AVOW’s response, before judging whether their response is sufficient.

Best wishes, Ken

Reply this time:

7 March 2012

Dear Genny,

Many thanks for your message. I will ask AVOW for the report this week.

Best wishes, Ken

Welsh Government

My email:

2 March 2012

Dear Mr Pugh

I refer to your email below.

It is now over four months since you wrote and I do not seem to have received any update as outlined in your correspondence, although I was informed by Carl Sargeant that AVOW was conducting an Inquiry and that the WG was waiting for the outcome of this. Beyond that, I have no idea what’s happening.

Please will you update me on the situation? I am aware that AVOW conducted an internal investigation led by an external chair into the matter, but as far as I am aware it has not made public its findings or any action taken as a result of these findings.

I have also made requests of the Welsh Government to tell me the date when it was made aware by AVOW of the Tribunal ruling against it. This is important as the take-over of the management of the failing Plas Madoc Communities First by AVOW, led by Chief Officer John Gallanders, was happening just after John Gallanders and AVOW’s legal advisers had sat in the Employment Tribunal and heard the Judge deliver the Tribunal panel’s damning ruling of his actions, the actions (or rather inactions) of AVOW Trustees and the serious failings in governance of AVOW. Clearly it was inappropriate for AVOW, led by the same Chief Officer and Trustees, to go ahead and take over another failing organisation knowing that its own governance had been so roundly condemned by the Tribunal.

My question has not been answered and I am now repeating it. Please can you tell me on what date the Welsh Government was made aware of the Employment Tribunal claim against AVOW and the outcome of the Tribunal?

Much of the Tribunal’s ruling can be found here and elsewhere on the same blog. The full written reasons for the judgment have previously been sent to the WG.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Genevieve Bove

cc Mark Isherwood and Aled Roberts AMs

Here is the email I was referring to in the message above (and note the disclaimer at the bottom!):

Ms. Bove.

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the recent Employment Tribunal ruling against the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW).

Following the Board of Trustees decision not to appeal the Tribunal findings and decisions, the Welsh Government has written to the Chair of the Board of Trustees of AVOW seeking confirmation of the action taken to remedy the issues identified in the Tribunal Board’s report.

Once received, I will write to update you further.

Anthony J Pugh
Third Sector Unit Uned Trydydd Sector
Communities Division Yr Is-adran Gymunedau
Department for Local Government and Communities Adran dros Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau
Welsh Government Llywodraeth Cymru
Tel / Ffon: 0300 062 8274

Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the Welsh Assembly Government, any constituent part or connected body.

This is the only response (a read receipt) I have had to my email of 2 March, sent almost three weeks ago.

Your message

To: Pugh, Anthony (LGC – Communities)
Cc: Isherwood, Mark (Assembly Member); Roberts, Aled (Assembly Member)
Subject: Re: Gross misconduct at AVOW
Sent: Fri, 2 Mar 2012 18:00:55 -0000

was read on Mon, 5 Mar 2012 08:41:54

Charity Commission (Wales)

Email to Harry Iles:

2 March 2012

Dear Harry

I am aware that the Charity Commission Wales was awaiting the findings of the internal inquiry conducted by AVOW after the decision not to appeal the employment tribunal findings in the case Bove v AVOW and that you made statements that were released into the public domain about the commission’s satisfaction with AVOW’s proposals for this inquiry, although the detail of the proposals themselves were not made public.

Please can you let me know:
What were the inquiry’s findings?
What is the Charity Commission Wales’ response to these findings?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Genny Bove

cc Mark Isherwood and Aled Roberts, AMs

Harry Iles’ response:

9 March 2012

Dear Ms Bove

ASSOCIATION OF VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS IN WREXHAM – 1043989

Thank you for your e-mail.

I was provided with an update by the charity in January.

They explained they have been actively considering all aspects of the judgement and anticipated a report which will be considered by the executive at its March meeting.

I will contact you again when I have received this. I will also send a copy of my response to Mark Isherwood AM who has expressed an interest in the case.

Yours sincerely

Harry Iles
tel/ffôn: 01633 225505

Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)

To Chief Executive Graham Benfield:

2 March 2012

Dear Graham

It is now nearly five months since you wrote to me [email below] regarding the internal inquiry AVOW set up following its decision not to appeal the findings of the Employment Tribunal.

Has AVOW reported its inquiry findings to WCVA? If so, what were the findings and what action, if any, has WCVA decided to take?

Yours sincerely

Genny Bove

cc Mark Isherwood and Aled Roberts AMs

Previous email from Graham Benfield:

Dear Genny

Thank you for your email. We now understand that AVOW will not be appealing against the decision of the Tribunal and that the trustees have set up an internal enquiry with an independent Chair. Once this enquiry is completed and reported its findings WCVA will consider what action to take.

Kind regards

Graham

And the latest reply:

Dear Genny

I am waiting for confirmation from AVOW’s Chair as to whether the internal inquiry has now been completed. I will contact you once we’ve received the report and considered what action to take.

Kind regards

Graham

Graham Benfield OBE
Chief Executive/Prif Weithredwr
Tel/ffon 029 20431 734

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB)

2 March 2012

Dear Linda

Thank you for passing on the letter from Mary Burrows back in October (attached).

Mary wrote:

“We are advised that the WCVA are addressing these matters directly with AVOW and we shall be seeking assurance from this work in relation to the very significant points made in your letter.”

As WCVA has yet to respond to me regarding the matters it has addressed with AVOW following the internal inquiry AVOW conducted after the decision not to appeal the tribunal findings, please can you confirm what assurances WCVA has provided to BCUHB in relation to AVOW?

Is the BCUHB satisfied with these assurances?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Genny Bove

cc. Mark Isherwood and Aled Roberts, AMs

To date I have received no acknowledgement nor reply to this email.

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Letter to the Wrexham Leader about AVOW

Last week, the Wrexham Leader (3 January daily and 5 January weekly editions) published this article on John Gallanders’ views about smaller charities in the Wrexham area being close to collapse.

I wrote this letter to the editor in reply:

Sir –

Re. article in the Big Wrexham Leader 5 January: Smaller Charities ‘close to collapse’

John Gallanders, Chief Officer of AVOW, says: “Charities in Wrexham are really starting to struggle and the future is looking bleak for some.” It strikes me that individuals and funding bodies might have more confidence in giving to local charities if the umbrella body set up to represent them, AVOW, had more credibility. AVOW is still being run by a Chief Officer who was found by an employment tribunal to have abused his position and behaved reprehensibly, to have manipulated the Trustees and usurped their role, and a Trustee Board (including Chair and Vice-Chair) who failed in their duties, took no proper decisions of their own, deferred all decisions to their officers, even when dealing with a complaint about the Chief Officer, and oversaw grievance processes that the Tribunal found to be “from start to finish… a sham”. The employment tribunal panel stated more than once in their findings that they were “shocked”, commenting that this was not a word they used lightly.

John Gallanders says: “With larger charities doing such a good job on drumming up support, smaller charities get forgotten about.” He is presumably talking about his own charity as one of the successful larger ones. AVOW’s empire building, which has led to it having around 60 members of staff, could be seen as directly contributing to the demise of smaller local charities. There is also a big question to be asked about the continued funding of AVOW, given the serious findings of the employment tribunal and lack of change at the top following those findings.

AVOW took over the running of Plas Madoc Communities First project, which had serious governance problems, after AVOW’s own serious governance problems had been identified and exposed at the Employment Tribunal. This move doubled AVOW’s staff team overnight. Neither AVOW nor the Welsh Government has provided an answer to the question: When did AVOW inform the Welsh Government about the Employment Tribunal and its findings, which were known to AVOW on 14 March 2011? If there was more transparency about public funding of charities, there might be more public confidence among those considering making voluntary donations.

The article states: “Mr Gallanders revealed many of the grant-giving organisations such as the National Lottery are experiencing a significant increase in the number of applications resulting in the same amount of cash being spread more thinly among the ever-increasing number of charities which rely on it.” I can reveal that the Big Lottery Fund is one of the most frequent and regular visitors to my blog notavow.wordpress.com, which details the sorry tale of AVOW and the employment tribunal. I would suggest that AVOW’s damaged reputation is likely to impact negatively on all charities in Wrexham applying for funds.

John Gallanders talks about smaller charities facing mergers and downsizing to keep them afloat. In the past, we had one Voluntary Services Council for the old Clwyd local authority area and it is open to question why public money is being used to pay for separate voluntary services councils in Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire. Given the findings against AVOW and the lack of any action (beyond a secretive internal investigation that won’t reveal its full terms of reference, will not say whether its findings will be made public and has declined to interview me, the main witness, as part of its inquiry), it would seem appropriate that public funders should be looking at transferring the governance of AVOW to another body in the same way that the governance of Plas Madoc Communities First was transferred. Maybe AVOW needs to be merged.

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29 November 2011 Press Release: Welsh Government and AVOW

Campaigners calling for transparency and accountability at AVOW (Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham) and in the Welsh Government handed out leaflets today outside the General Meeting of AVOW at its offices in Egerton Street, Wrexham. Copy of leaflet here.

Concerns centre around two main issues:

(1) AVOW TAKE-OVER OF THE MANAGEMENT OF PLAS MADOC COMMUNITIES FIRST PROJECT

It is now clear that John Gallanders, Chief Officer at AVOW, was involved in negotiations which led to the take-over by AVOW of the management of the failing Plas Madoc Communities First project and that these negotiations took place after the handing down of the verbal Employment Tribunal Judgment in the case of Bove v AVOW, in which his conduct as Chief Officer as well as the conduct of the Trustees of AVOW were severely criticised and found to be lacking in several key respects. In other words, John Gallanders continued to lead AVOW through the take-over of an organisation with failing governance knowing full well that his own organisation’s governance had been found to be seriously failing.

See also this post.

Despite a number of requests both to AVOW and the Welsh Government, neither has yet answered the question of whether and when AVOW made the WG aware of the Tribunal outcome and its findings.

AVOW has also failed to respond to AM Mark Isherwood’s request for an answer to the allegation made by ex-trustee Nick Colbourne and openly reported in the press that AVOW board members were ‘parachuted in’ to AVOW to get the Plas Madoc vote through the Trustee board.

(2) THE INTERNAL REVIEW SET UP BY AVOW TO LOOK AT THE EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL’S FINDINGS IN THE CASE OF BOVE V AVOW

There are a number of issues in connection with the Review of the Tribunal’s findings set up by AVOW once it had decided not to appeal against the judgment.

The panel at AVOW undertaking the review, consisting of two trustees and an ‘independent chair’ has, at the time of writing, yet to respond to AM Mark Isherwood on a number of points he raised weeks ago including:

* whether the panel will interview Ms Bove as part of its investigation ‘given that her story is central to the Inquiry.’ No approach has yet been made to Ms Bove by the panel (or by anyone else) regarding the review.
* whether the panel will ‘see the full documentation from the tribunal case, rather than just the findings – i.e. agreed bundle, including the bundle of papers AVOW allegedly objected to being used but which was allowed, and all witness statements.’

[words in italics are quotes from Mark Isherwood’s queries raised with AVOW]

The documents AVOW objected to and tried unsuccessfully to suppress include emails sent by Mr Gallanders to AVOW’s employment advisers. These revealed Mr Gallanders’ wrongdoing and exposed his real intentions, for example trying to avoid Ms Bove transferring to AVOW, using a request for medical evidence to be ‘awkward’ towards Ms Bove and requesting an enhanced CRB check not to protect vulnerable people but as ‘a long shot’ that something would come back on it.

See also this post.

AVOW’s witness statements also attracted particular criticism in the judgment (quote from Tribunal judgment below).

The full terms of reference of the review have not been made public. A freedom of information request to the Charity Commission for Wales resulted in other correspondence being released but not the letter from AVOW of 20 September 2011, stating in detail the steps it planned to take to deal with the issues raised by the Tribunal. This is somewhat perverse, since AVOW itself released to the press in full the Charity Commission’s response to its 20 September letter, as quoted in this report and in an article in the Wrexham Leader on 5 October 2011.

Link to FoI request and follow-up here.

The public is being asked to accept the Charity Commission’s support and satisfaction with the measures proposed, without knowing what those measures are!

Nor will AVOW confirm that the panel’s report will be made public, this despite the fact that the regulatory and overseeing bodies appear to be holding back on any action in respect of AVOW pending the report. There is not even a confirmed deadline for the report to be produced although, in AVOW’s winter 2011 newsletter, a brief article about the Tribunal – the first time it has been formally mentioned to members – states that ‘it is hoped that it will be reporting to the AVOW board before the end of the year.’

EXTRACT FROM TRIBUNAL'S JUDGMENT ON MATTER OF WITNESS STATEMENTS

The prolixity of the claimant’s witness statement was, however, as nothing compared to the brevity of the statements supplied on behalf of the respondent. They were singularly unhelpful. None exceeded four short sentences in length; most did not exceed two. None were ready by the directed date for exchange (10 January 2011); indeed, one of the respondent’s principal witnesses, its chair of trustees at the time, told us he had no idea that the claimant had even brought Tribunal proceedings until 17 January 2011. The respondent’s statements were limited to an assertion that certain minutes of meetings were true and accurate, accompanied by a request that we look at specific pages of the bundle but with no attempt to provide a factual context or commentary. They told us almost nothing about the position of the respondent’s witnesses on the matters in dispute. They barely complied with the letter, let alone the spirit, of the requirement to disclose evidence in chief by the provision of statements.

Genny Bove, who brought the employment tribunal case against AVOW, said:

The public has a right to be concerned when neither AVOW nor the Welsh Government will answer important questions about the circumstances surrounding AVOW’s take-over of the management of Plas Madoc Communities First. We need transparency, not cover-up.

As for the internal review AVOW is conducting, there are questions about whether an organisation which has found to be so comprehensively failing in its governance is in any position to investigate itself. Irrespective of this, however, there are many unanswered questions about the way the review is being carried out, not least why the Panel has made no effort, two months into the process, to contact me as part of its investigations. That Mark Isherwood’s questions have gone unanswered just demonstrates that it is business as usual at AVOW, by which I mean that the lessons of the tribunal have not been learnt, and that is very bad news both for AVOW’s members and for the wider public.

END

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Wrexham Council’s Equality Department and ‘One Wrexham’

If you came to this post from the ‘One Wrexham’ page, here’s a link to return: Click here

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Today I attended an event promoted by AVOW and run by Wrexham County Borough Council Equality Officer Celia Hart about Fairness in Wrexham, as WCBC looks to produce a Strategic Equality Plan to meet the requirements of the new Equality Act and consult a few people with ‘protected characteristics’ in the process. As is usual at such events, most of the attendees appeared to be paid workers from the council and various NGOs.

I’ve been having a lot of problems in the past few months over a complaint I attempted to raise with the Equality Officer about AVOW’s status as signatory to and recruiter for the One Wrexham Charter of Belonging. I’ve been ignored, fobbed off, passed from pillar to post and back and I’m not very happy about it. As we will see, there has been the usual lack of transparency from the authorities about what steps they are taking to deal with matters as AVOW continues its ‘business as usual’ front.

Knowledge is power and the mainstream media can’t be relied on, so I prepared a document to share with participants at today’s event outlining the situation and my experiences. I had no intention of disrupting whatever had been planned for today, but I did intend to make sure people knew about at least one punter’s issues both with AVOW and with the way the council deals with complaints on equality matters.

During the lunch hour, I started to pass round the flyers. Celia Hart quickly took exception to this, even though many groups were handing round their own literature at the same time. At this point, she had not read the flyer but immediately objected to my use of the phrase ‘Fairness in Wrexham?’ for the heading as this was the name of HER event, and claimed that people would think I was handing out official flyers, even though it would have been blindingly obvious to anyone reading them that they weren’t. She threatened to throw me out if I didn’t stop, but I’d printed 50 of the things and was intent on distributing them, so I carried on.

Back in the main hall, I got in conversation with some Deaf friends who were also attending the event, only to be hauled away (not quite literally) by Celia who rudely interrupted with ‘Genny. I want to talk to you now, over here’ delivered headmistress-style. In the middle of the main hall, in front of dozens of people, she proceeded to deliver an extremely angry rant while standing inches away from me and prodding her finger at my face. I asked her to move back and told her not to prod at me but she just became more irate. When she dismissed my suggestion that we find one of the facilitators for the day to be present while we discussed the matter more calmly, and continued to berate me, I raised my voice in response.

During her rant, Celia said both that she hadn’t responded to my emails because someone else in the council was dealing with my complaint – it wasn’t her job – and, in the next breath, that I had no idea how much she was doing to try to help me and how much everyone was doing to try to help me ‘behind the scenes’ (if I’d just let them help me) and how she would still try to help me ‘even after this’. Notwithstanding the contradiction implicit in these statements, it was actually the phrase ‘behind the scenes’ that interested me most. The council might appear to be ignoring me and doing nothing, but they are in fact secretly doing stuff on my behalf without my knowledge. Am I supposed to be grateful? Not even a pretence at transparency. How does Celia think she is helping me? I haven’t asked for any help for myself and this isn’t about me.

What I’m interested in is accountability and some semblance of justice. If the Council’s One Wrexham Charter is to have any credibility, it needs to be able to deal with complaints effectively. Given the findings of the tribunal against AVOW and the fact that John Gallanders is still in post and at work and the same Trustees are still running the show, AVOW’s name on the charter and its continued promotion of the charter on its website are a scandal, as is AVOW’s involvement in this ‘Fairness’ event.

Extracts from my press release about this event:

Genny Bove will be attending an event in Wrexham today called ‘Fairness in Wrexham’, promoted by AVOW, the employer found by a tribunal to have discriminated against her and victimised her during her employment there in 2008-9. AVOW took over the running of troubled Plas Madoc Communities First AFTER its own governance had been found seriously lacking at the tribunal in March 2011. Neither the Welsh Government nor AVOW has yet answered the question of when the WG was informed of the tribunal or its outcome. The damning tribunal judgment was delivered verbally in March and followed up with written reasons in August.

The event is being organised by Wrexham County Borough Council equalities department. Genny has been asking for months for this department to investigate AVOW as a signatory and recruiter to the ‘One Wrexham Charter of Belonging’, many of the conditions for which AVOW does not meet or has broken. The replies Genny has (and has not!) received have been very unsatisfactory.

[Genny] has said:

“There is little point the council talking about ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ when it cannot even deal with correspondence and complaints fairly. The evidence speaks for itself and I will be publishing the whole correspondence shortly on [this] website [Now available to read here].

“The tribunal findings now stand as fact, since AVOW did not attempt to appeal them. Yet the regulatory bodies appear perfectly happy to wait pending the outcome of an internal investigation by two trustees with an independent chair, even though we have no idea when this will report, the terms of reference of the investigation have been withheld and the investigating panel has to date failed to respond to AM Mark Isherwood’s questions about whether I will be interviewed as part of the inquiry and whether the panel will look at ALL the evidence presented to the tribunal including witness statements and at the documents which AVOW tried and failed to suppress which reveal John Gallanders’ misconduct and show that he was acting in bad faith towards me all along.

“That AVOW is promoting an event on ‘Fairness’ in conjunction with WCBC when its Trustees and Chief Officer have such a damning cloud of condemnation from the Tribunal hanging over their heads is a travesty.”

If you came to this post from the ‘One Wrexham’ page, here’s a link to return: Click here

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New Solidarity Network for Whistle-blowers

A new network is aiming to bring together stories of whistle-blowing across Wales and beyond and to build grassroots solidarity for whistle-blowers. Read about it here.

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Liam Fox resigns… John Gallanders next?

Breaking News

We have heard today that Defence Secretary Liam Fox has resigned while an inquiry is being carried out into his conduct.

Allegra Stratton of the Guardian writes:

Fox is said to have crumpled under the weight of this week’s revelations and the prospect of another weekend of speculation. He could not hold out until the inquiry into his behaviour wound up officially – expected to be at some point next week. The prime minister had always held out the right to exercise his own judgement and keep Fox in his post even if O’Donnell’s report had been critical, but the defence secretary decided to short-circuit the process and limit the personal and political damage.

AVOW is currently carrying out an internal investigation into the findings of the Employment Tribunal. These findings roundly condemn John Gallanders’ ‘reprehensible’ behaviour, fraud, victimisation of his employee, direct discrimination, abuse of his position and the fact that he usurped the role of the Trustees and took their decisions for them. Taking a look at the AVOW Employee Handbook, it is clear that John Gallanders is guilty of gross misconduct on several counts, even one of which can result in instant dismissal. Yet he is still in his post of Chief Officer. Most of the Trustees directly implicated by the findings, including the Chair and Vice-Chair, are also still on the AVOW Board.

There are many questions to be asked about this, not least why the various funding bodies and regulatory authorities seem content, in spite of the uncontested Employment Tribunal findings of fact, to allow AVOW to carry on business as usual with the same Trustees and the same Chief Officer pending this internal investigation. No doubt they will also be happy to wait even longer once this inquiry has reported and a further, external, investigation is announced. Never mind that AVOW has been run by a corrupt Chief Officer for years and continues to be run by him, with his incompetent Trustees merely deferring to his decisions. Is corruption in publicly funded bodies really so commonplace that no one bats an eyelid about it any more?

Nevertheless, the pressure must be building on John Gallanders. Even if his Trustees blindly follow wherever he leads and the bodies which should be overseeing AVOW’s work are merely standing by, it is obvious that the credibility of the organisation is compromised and John Gallanders’ position increasingly untenable.

Maybe it won’t be long before John Gallanders follows Liam Fox’s example and steps down. Maybe he’ll take some Trustees with him. Watch this space.

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