HR manager who fired council boss was ‘not aware’ she had whistleblown

PUBLISHED: 17:21 29 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:30 29 September 2017

Maggie Siviter is suing North Somerset Council after being dismissed in 2015.

Maggie Siviter is suing North Somerset Council after being dismissed in 2015.

Wales News Service Ltd.

The HR manager responsible for terminating the contract of an ex-council boss who claims she was sacked for speaking out about child sexual exploitation says she was ‘not aware’ any whistleblowing had taken place.

North Somerset Council’s former safeguarding lead Maggie Siviter, aged 56, is suing the authority for £1.4million for breach of contract.

Ms Siviter says no risk assessments were completed by the council over suspicions vulnerable girls were being sexually exploited at Butterfly’s massage parlour, a bar owned by Kiem Binh Mu and his brother Cam, and an Indian restaurant run by Alkas Hussain.

This week, speaking to the Mercury, Mr Hussain and Cam Mu have both denied any involvement in the illegal activities alleged by Ms Siviter with Mr Hussain saying the allegations against made by Ms Siviter are ‘100 per cent false’.

At the tribunal at Pontypridd County Court in Wales today (Friday) a statement from the council’s HR manager Susan Turner said Ms Siviter was fired for breaching the data protection act, when she sent and took confidential documents home.

But Ms Siviter argues her job should have been protected by whistleblowing laws, as she escalated safeguarding concerns to young person’s watchdog Ofsted when her pleas for an investigation were ignored.

Ms Siviter was hired through an agency to take on the role of safeguarding lead, and her contract was due to end on November 30.

On November 23 allegations came to light that Ms Siviter had breached data protection laws and Ms Turner met with her alongside the council’s director of people and communities Sheila Smith to discuss them.

Ms Turner’s statement says: “We jointly agreed if what had (been) said was correct, then we would terminate her contract immediately.”

The statement says Ms Siviter confirmed the allegations were true, and adds: “She then told us, almost as an aside, that she was the whistleblower.

“I did not know anything about any whistleblowing.

“Because she had admitted to taking confidential information, Ms Smith told her we would be ending her assignment with immediate effect.

“Had the claimant said ‘I’m your whistleblower and this is why I’ve taken the information’ I might have thought differently – but the two issues did not connect in my head.

“I did not terminate the claimant’s (Ms Siviter’s) contract because she had made protected disclosures. I was not aware disclosures had been made to Ofsted when her contract was terminated.”

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