A Question of Husbandry or The Cow’s tale.
The Following was offered to both Vixenswithconviction and OTR. I don’t think holding it back as requested is a good idea.
I read with interest the Slugger O’Toole interview with John McCallister and would ask both O’Toole and VixenswithConviction, who posted NI21’s statement, if the following Points could be clarified by one or both? Perhaps John or the Executive could help?
I am neither a Party member nor do I know the complainant involved. I ask purely as one of those who voted for NI21 candidates in the May Elections. Like some 10,000 others I believe we are owed some sort of explanation of the points I’d like to highlight.
In Slugger O’Toole:
John states that a complaint was made to him. Was this a verbal complaint or in writing? Was the complaint made to him in person by the complainant? Was there any allegation of Criminal behaviour which should have been reported to the PSNI? If there was, why were the PSNI not brought in immediately?
The suggestion has been made that the allegation was of a sexual nature if that is true and the complaint is of uninvited physical contact then an assault may have occurred and it is a matter for the Police. If we assume that is not the case then let’s say it was some form harassment that has been alleged.
The question must be asked as to who was the employer of the Complainant? Did John establish who employed this person?
If she was employed by the NI Assembly then surely the Assembly as part of the Civil Service would have clearly defined protocols that must be followed.
If employed by the Party the complaints process, one would assume, should be part of the employee’s contract of employment. How to complain in these circumstances should be clearly laid out for the employee.
John needs to clarify and confirm if he established who the Employer was and if both he and the complainant followed either the Assembly or the Party complaints procedure. As the Assembly are not involved we must assume the Party employed this lady however John should confirm he established that fact.
John states he informed the Executive and that the Party had no machinery or procedures to deal with a complaint of this nature. The Executive can easily confirm if the person was contracted by the Party and if there was a clear complaints procedure for employees to follow. If not, why not?
Both John and the Party executive agree that the executive contacted a Solicitor for Advice. If no formal employee complaint procedure existed then that makes clear sense. That decision to obtain advice appears to have caused John some problem.
Can John explain why he was not happy to obtain legal advice and why he chose to either ignore that advice or to approach an outside agency without seeing it?
John states that Basil and the Executive agreed to approaching Carecall prior to receiving Legal Advice? This seems improbable. Why would they seek advice and bring in Carecall before getting the advice?
I invite both sides to clear up that point. Did John contact Carecall without the executive’s knowledge or agreement? If John did then can he explain why he would step outside the executive and take a solo action?
It is my understanding that Carecall operate on the strict condition that both the employee and the employer agree to using their service. Did anyone from the Party other than John authorise this? Were Carecall aware of this ambiguity? Did John suggest he was acting on the authority of the Party? Did he have authorisation to suggest this if in fact he did?
On 18th June a second Post by Slugger O’Toole appeared.
The Carecall Letter.
It’s addressed to Jayne Howson and john McCallister in that order. It then sets out the Original Mandate in which it clearly states that they met only with John and that they understood that he was instructing them to carry out the investigation. There is no mention of either the Party Chair at the time, or the one at present, as being involved in any way. Why then is the letter now addressed to Ms Howson and John? Something seems strange in saying John alone initiated action but that we will tell someone who is not involved what’s happening.
They then have a heading “Change of Mandate.”
They state that the new executive were contacted in relation to an investigation that the previous executive had no part in and had not authorised and ask for clarification of their instructions. Surely as the person making the original approach, that request would have been best served being directed solely to John? The new executive, being aware of both the fact that the old executive had not requested any action by Carecall and of the standing legal advice sought by the old executive, could and would not authorise further action initiated by John acting alone.
They did not stop an investigation they merely did not authorise any action on their behalf.
As far as their “investigation” is concerned they say that the person named in the “Allegations” has failed to respond. Thanks to John’s trips to the press it’s easy to assume they are addressing this to Mr McCrea. As has been clearly stated by the Party executive which includes Mr McCrea, Legal advice prevents them from involving themselves in an investigation in which they have taken no previous role and did not instigate.
The Section headed Next Steps.
Noticeably Ms Howson is not mentioned and this section is addressed solely to the Complainant Mr McCallister!
As it’s final suggestion it refers him to the NI assembly Commissioner for Standards. The Commissioner would act if a complaint is received from an employee paid by the Assembly as I have previously suggested. To date as far as I am aware that has not happened.
They also address the employee’s expectations that the investigation would be completed. I expect John as the sole instigator and to whom this “Next Steps” section is addressed would be the person to ask why his requested action has halted. It strikes me that the Party executive who did nothing to invite, authorise or employ Carecall should not be the ones blamed by John for his own failings.
John has spoken on two separate occasions to two different Newspapers about what he says was an independent complaint process. Why did he feel the need to do this?
At the time he went to the Press the investigation was proceeding, so any approach to the media would have been counter-productive, could only cause problems for the Party and create an impossible situation for Party Candidates. John that needs explaining!
It appears to all observers that neither of the two executives authorised the investigation and therefore the new executive could hardly have halted it as John claims.
Slugger quotes John as saying:-
“everything from the start of this process has been about stopping this investigation, rushing out and getting legal advice has been about trying to stop it and saying ah, well look, we cannot do this.”
John, does getting legal advice when a serious allegation has been made not sound like a rational and considered thing to do?
Does taking that advice you requested not seem the proper thing to do?
Does ignoring both legal advice and your party executive by instigating a third party investigation not seem to be the actions of someone rushing about?
Does making almost incomprehensible statements to the press follow the advice received and procedure agreed?
To use John’s analogy,
If you’ve got a sick cow you bring in a Vet and listen to him when it comes to how to treat your cow.
You don’t take a rolled up copy of the Newsletter and try and beat both the cow and all her calves to death!
I have spoken to a number of NI21’s members and I have found all of them to be deeply committed to the ideals of the Party. Each of them believes that there is a future for a Northern Irish Party. They are young, fresh and idealistic. They face a difficult time trying to keep the party they have given themselves to up and running. Ten thousand plus people see in them a possibility for a better future and I presume to vocalise for all of them in saying, Keep going, keep trying and keep on Aspiring to Better.