Sunday, June 23FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE

RACE BOSS CASE RAP; Charity chief in 'bias' row.

NOVANEWS

 

Byline: BY JEANETTE OLDHAM 
A MIDLAND charity boss who advises the Government on how to tackle discrimination has been criticised by a court for failing in his duty of impartiality. Dr Dick Atkinson was slammed by employment tribunal chiefs after he refused to stand down from a disciplinary panel when his neutrality was challenged.
He is founder and chief executive of the Balsall Heath Forum, a Birmingham community group which has tackled crime in the area with CCTV.

The charity was described as a ‘shining example’ to the nation by David Blunkett, who last week resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary. 
Mr Blunkett was impressed by the Forum’s work when he visited Birmingham in December 2001 and is understood to have become good friends with Dr Atkinson.
But Dr Atkinson’s professional fairness was called into question after he chaired a disciplinary hearing which led to the sacking of a Forum employee – despite previously investigating an unsubstantiated allegation against him.
Former CCTV controller Sammi Ibrahem, of Balsall Heath, worked for the Forum until he was dismissed in September, 2003. Last week, he won a claim for unfair dismissal. The Birmingham tribunal heard how Mr Ibrahem made an accusation about a work colleague, claiming hehad assaulted a child and made racial comments about an employee.
Soon afterwards, he was cautioned with disciplinary action over allegations that he had offered to disregard CCTV footage showing motoring offences of some community members for a pounds 50 payment. Mr Ibrahem, 43, denied the claims and the matter was dropped by the police.
Unison backed Mr Ibrahem, and pointed out the inappropriateness of Dr Atkinson hearing a subsequent disciplinary case, which led to his sacking.
John Foley, representing Mr Ibrahem, said Dr Atkinson was not the right person to chair the final disciplinary hearing Mr Foley said: “I think it’s incredible that a Government adviser would flout strict procedures like this.
“He advises on issues surrounding discrimination and yet he insisted, against advice, on chairing a disciplinary hearing when he had clearly made up his mind he wanted that employee out of the organisation.”
Tribunal chairman Paul Rose agreed, telling the hearing: “It was the same as a judge interviewing a police witness before a hearing.”
The tribunal found in favour of Mr Ibrahem. Last night he said: “I’m delighted that I won the case and feel vindicated.”
Dr Atkinson was unavailable for comment last night

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