I have just emailed councillors, senior officers and the press with the following:
This again comes from the case papers relating to the complaint against me by Messrs Loudon, Sneddon, Milne and Hendry. The same preamble given in part 1 applies, ie I have used the word BLANK where the case papers were redacted.
This example refers to either Mr Sneddon (or possibly Mrs Loudon) landing me in it by breaching a confidence but it struck me this morning that the phone call they made to the police was probably made the day after I had given them both a 5 page briefing with my views of the issues in Rothesay Joint Campus. I wonder now if the timing of the call to the police was related to them reading a frank assessment neither of them liked. Who knows, but the breach of trust by Mr Sneddon was the worst I’d ever come across and remains so till this day.
None of this would have become public if they hadn’t made their baseless complaint nor would it have become public if they had used the many offers to try and settle the matter.
You can make your own minds up about where the failings and poor judgement are here. You might also consider Mr Sneddon’s use of the word “behaviours” about me when you read about his “behaviours”.
This is perhaps the single most serious dent to my trust in senior officers of the council and concerns Mr Sneddon.
As lead councillor for education, I was contacted in Summer 2012 by concerned parents from Rothesay Joint Campus over the manner in which children with learning needs were being treated by the school. The first thing I did was consult Mr Sneddon and BLANK. I think I met with them at least twice over the increasingly serious allegations of poor practice in this school. They were both relying heavily on what they had been told by the then head teacher of the school. When I told them that I planned to meet with the concerned parents, the look that passed between them made me think I had said I was arranging a meeting with Old Nick himself. At that time, I could not understand why.
I did go to meet the parents and I later related what I had been told to Messrs Sneddon and BLANK. I subsequently met another group of parents, this time about a most horrific case of bullying within the school. The allegations made are not repeatable without bringing back very painful memories of what I had been told but suffice to say there was a criminal element to them. The police were subsequently called in to investigate. The pupils being bullied were often those with learning difficulties of one type or another and the bullies were some of the brightest pupils in the school.
I found it hard to believe what I was being told by some of the parents but I was so concerned about the allegations I felt the need to check them out. I walked into the police station in Rothesay one morning and asked to speak to the CID officer who was investigating. She told me that she had to speak off the record and I assured her that I would treat what she said in confidence.
What she said was, in fact, worse than I had heard from the parents. She told me there was a large section of the school round the gym and changing rooms that was, in her words, “out of control and policed by nobody”. She said that any vulnerable child entering this area was at risk of harm.
I immediately reported this to Mr Sneddon without revealing my source. He was having none of it and would not accept what I was saying. Moreover, I then found out that neither he nor Mrs Walker had even attempted to do what I had done, namely speak with the concerned parents or their support group called Achievement Bute. Instead, they relied solely on what the head teacher was telling them, much of which was untrue. This head teacher was, eventually, removed from her post.
It is worth stating here that, subsequently, this school ended up having more judgements against it than any other school in Scotland in recent times. A summary of this can be read at:
The point here, though, is twofold. One is that it appeared to suit Mr Sneddon to downplay what was happening in this school and this has resonance with the way he has treated my concerns about the way the care workers are treated, ie he seems to be of a type that wants to ignore the reality for as long as possible.
The second, though, relates to a breach of trust. He pressed me hard on my concerns about the seriousness of the bullying and eventually I made the mistake of telling him I had got the information from the police but I did not name the officer. He agreed to my plea not to pass this on but that is exactly what he did, and more or less immediately. He called a very senior police officer who then called me on 12 November 2012 to try and pressure me into taking a different line.
The call was distressing for me and I was being put under pressure solely because Mr Sneddon had landed me in it and, presumably, the officer who had spoken to me too. This severely damaged mutual trust, I am sorry to say. The truth of the seriousness of the bullying is contained in the article at the above link.
I believe I was correct to accept how serious matters were and I also believe Mr Sneddon to have been wrong and unwilling to accept the truth, until it was all too late. Compare and contrast with the care workers please.
I should have completed this statement to the commissioner by saying that I called Mr Sneddon when I got home on the same day as the police officer called me. All I will say is that we had a very difficult conversation.