Brent Council leader breaks his silence over black worker winning racial discrimination case

Cllr Muhammed Butt is the leader of Brent Council

Cllr Muhammed Butt is the leader of Brent Council - Credit: Archant

The leader of Brent Council has denied the town hall managers are racist after a tribunal ruled a black worker was a victim of racial discrimination and victimisation.

Slammed: Cara Davani

Slammed: Cara Davani - Credit: Archant

After 11 months of silence, Cllr Muhammed Butt has spoken out about the case involving Rosemary Clarke who faces a payout of up to £1million following the ruling.

In a furious statement published in a ‘members information bulletin’, a weekly publication for council workers, which has been leaked to the public, Cllr Butt said there exists a continued “misrepresentation of the judgement” which has led to the “corrosive affect of untruths” on council staff.

The former head of learning and development resigned from her role claiming her line manager Cara Davani, the then head of human resources, had victimised her because of the colour of her skin.

She had been suspended before her resignation and she also claimed a white colleague in similar circumstances was allowed to resign whereas she was told she faced a full disciplinary hearing even if she stepped down.

Last September, at Watford Employment Tribunal, Ms Clarke won her case and Brent Council failed in a subsequent attempt at overturning the decision.

He added: “The fact is that the tribunal found fault with the decisions made by a number of managers that collectively led to the finding against the council.

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“We are sorry that mistakes were made, but we do not accept that all the staff were therefore racist.”

Defending Ms Davani, who was named continuously in the tribunal’s findings, he said most of the managers and officers who had involvement in the case had left and the focus has unfairly been placed solely on her.

He also said that if the reasons for Ms Clarke’s suspension had been upheld, is would have constituted “gross misconduct”.

Comparing the case with the white colleague who was allowed to resign without repurcussion, he said: “Different managers made the decisions in these cases but the findings were against the council as the employer.

“The council will not condone a witch-hunt against staff, even those who make mistakes,” he said.

“We have used the failings in this case to learn, by commissioning a review of practices and through implementing an improvement plan.

“We stand on our record, as service provider and employer, and hope that our staff, and the public will judge us on this.”

Following the ruling, the council conducted a review into its equality and human resources policies which discovered that Black and minority ethnic (BAME) employees were less likely to be promoted even though they participated in more training than their white counterparts.

The report compiled by Cllr Michael Pavey, deputy leader of Brent Council, also stated that the council must recognise there is a real challenge in ensuring that people from BAME backgrounds are represented within the senior management team.

A list of recommendations to be implemented were made including developing talent within the council to ensure progression opportunities, implementing a mentoring system to nurture the talent of underrepresented groups and introducing compulsory ‘unconscious bias’ training for all managers and recruiters.

Ms Davani, an award-winning dog breeder, left her role at the council in June to take a ‘career break’.

It is not known if she received a payout for stepping down.

Related link: Brent Council found guilty of victimisation and racism against black worker