Letter from Professor Kay Hampton to the
Chair of the Committee, dated 11 November 2009
First, I would like to express my personal gratitude
to you for restoring my faith in democracy! The excellent way
in which you chaired the above committee yesterday gave me confidence
that at long last there are MPs and Peers committed enough to
get to the bottom of this issue and to restore confidence in Human
Rights and the EHRC. It is the first time, since these matters
were raised, that I feel encouraged to share more.
As you mentioned yesterday, this has been very
difficult for my fellow colleagues and myself. This is not something
we have done before and hopefully will never have to do again.
Having listened to Trevor's evidence yesterday,
I feel more determined than ever to assist your committee in any
way I can so that he is held to account. I am especially concerned
that he was less than economical with the truth in some instances
and I hope that the material I am enclosing will shed some light
on some key matters that he claimed to be unaware of.
The Information may or may not assist you in
your report preparation and you might wish to it share with the
PAC-apart from that I feel this should be treated with confidence.
The information I am sending you may be of value for two reasons:
i) in establishing a pattern of autocratic leadership style, poor
governance and questionable practices ii) in understanding the
specific history relating to the reappointment of the named CRE
staff who took redundancy payments and reapplied for consultancy
work. They all left the CRE (either fulltime or part-time) with
Trevor Phillips and before Nicola Brewer came into post.
In effect there are several questions that still
need to be asked, which in my view go beyond Trevor's leadership
style to the more substantive issue of concern- much of which
only came to my attention after he took up his post as Chair of
EHRC and I as Chair of CRE.
For the record, I shared all my concerns with
senior officials at DCLG when I was Chair of the CRE. I was unfortunately
unable to secure the co-operation or assistance of the senior
official [****] who was frankly obstructive. I have reason to
believe that many letters and emails I sent him did not reach
On my arrival at the CRE in January 2007 (three
months after I was appointed as Trevor did not leave until December
2006) I met with Helen Judge, another senior official at the DCLG
and she indicated that there were three outstanding matters that
she wished me to resolve, ASAP, as one in particular was dragging
on for a while (recommendations from an Audit report)
These were as follows:
2. THE APPOINTMENT
CEO: MARCH 2007
Both Trevor Phillips (although no longer Chair)
and [*****] insisted that we appoint two Deputy chairs and a Chief
Executive at substantial costs despite the fact that the normal
work of the CRE was winding down by this time and the CRE was
preparing for a merger. It should be understood that after the
premature departure of two CEOs under Trevor's Chairmanship of
the CRE, Trevor took on the role of chair and accounting officer
for over two years and during that time resisted the appointment
of a CEO. I sat on at least three panels in attempts to appoint
CEOs and some high quality applicants were turned down because
the chair "felt"he could not work with any of selected
applicants. It was therefore surprising when the Chair suggested
that we appoint Maxine Ayton (who was previously considered by
the Chair inappropriate to appoint as CEO). We eventually appointed
Maxine Ayton as CEO (now Director of Dignity-sister company to
Equate) and two Deputies, one given a contract without open competition.
[*****] in DCLG approved formally and Trevor Phillips fully supported.
3. AGREEING A
In addressing the budget, I became concerned
about three key issues:
First the mass "secondment" to the
EHRC Transition Team of the entire Chair support team without
any transparent employment process or risk assessment of the impact
of their departure on CRE work. In fact, there were no vacancies
advertised on the transition team, no open competition (as was
required to allow staff from all three commissions to have a fair
chance at applying) and no interviews, let alone job descriptions
for the staff that left.
A significant number of staff left with their
IT equipment, furniture etc. This meant that we had to recruit
an entirely new office team to support the Chair's office and
Communication Directorate at the CRE. Any attempt to question
this was brushed aside by the interim CEO (Maxine Ayton), Trevor
Phillips, [*****] and the Director of Finance. I raised this matter
with the Board and established a small group to investigate. Trevor
intervened and stopped CRE Commissioners from investigating this
matter any further and [*****] supported this intervention.
Although the Financial Report attached indicates
that some were seconded for up to three or four days, there was
no evidence that these staff did other than work exclusively for
Needless to say, I raised this concern with
CRE commissioners and with staff several times, and also with
the DCLG. In the end, I was wrongly accused of "interfering"
in operational matters (I am well aware of the boundaries between
executive and non-executive roles) and was instructed by [*****]
to delegate oversight of Financial matters to a Deputy Chair (Julia
I attach correspondence, which relates to these
matters [not printed]. [*****] insisted that if the matter were
exposed it would be damaging for ministers and the EHRC as Trevor
had recently been appointed as Chair. Ultimately, I made the decision
to focus on external matters and delegated non-executive, financial
oversight to the newly appointed Vice Chair, Julia Chain, who
then chaired the finance committee.
I was later to discover that Trevor had previously
given Julia Chain consultancy work for the CRE without any discussion
at Board level. She was effectively paid £3,000 per day (private
sector rates) to chair a CRE investigation panel. In any, given
month she would work three days a week and often claimed £9,000
per month. When I questioned the CEO, the Legal Director and Julia,
the latter indicated that Trevor had approved the work and this
had nothing to do with me. Despite an obvious conflict of interest,
there was yet again no transparent process in allocating the contract.
While I was there I was not able to track any paperwork on this
and we were told at a board meeting that proof of the contract
was passed on to DCLG.
My purpose in revealing this information is
to illustrate that the leadership style, governance and probity
issues we raised in evidence to your Committee, in breach of the
Nolan Principles as we understand them, reflect a pattern of leadership
which, in my experience, date back to the period when Trevor Phillips
was Chair of the CRE. As you will note, despite my considerable
experience as a non-executive, I was unable to resolve any of
these issues due to the support given to Trevor from Officials
It is difficult to understand how Trevor Phillips
can deny any involvement in, or even knowledge of, the reappointment
of the staff concerned when in fact they formed part of the team
who literally "walked out" of the CRE with Trevor when
he took up his post at the EHRC. Further in his evidence, Trevor
denied that Faz Hakim was his special advisor. For the record,
Trevor indicated to me the first time we met (before he even took
up the appointment at CRE) that he intended to appoint Faz Hakim
as his special advisor to work closely with him. It is true that
she held the title of Special Advisor for some 18 months. After
which, I clearly recall Trevor informing myself and the other
deputy (Sarah Spencer) that he intended to make Faz a Director
(of external affairs). There was no advertisement of the post,
no interviews, just an announcementstrangely, despite the
unhappiness amongst staff, no one actually questioned Trevor on
the impropriety. In other cases we were told in advance of any
interview process whom to expect to be appointed. Colleen Harris
(the new Communication Director he appointed), for example, was
paid a salary that far exceeded the top end of the Directors'
Scale. I am not sure who in DCLG approved this and why.
Finally, When Trevor arrived at the EHRC, he
did not have a designated budget at the EHRC and the CRE subsequently
subsidised his Travel expenses-for a period of time. We initially
paid for his chauffer driven car (which he continued to use during
my period at the EHRC) and staff who were "seconded"
to the transition team continued to claim expenses from the CRE
for a period. Again, any attempt to raise this was met with barriers
at the DCLG. I have not seen, nor approved, the CRE final accounts
but they must make interesting reading. In addition to the reappointment
of staff who received redundancy pay, some £66,000 went unaccounted
for from the CRE budget.
With so may questions remaining unanswered and
the other concerns raised in relation to Trevor's behaviour, I
felt I had no choice but to leave when Nicola Brewer resigned
as she was the only one, in my view, who was likely to have succeeded
in preventing a repeat of the circumstances I witnessed at the
The DCLG went through several restructures and
changes during this time and several ministerial changes, Ruth
Kelly, MP appointed me as Chair, Meg Munn, MP, soon replaced her.
I shared my concerns with Peter Housden, the then Director General,
Equalities, and B Follett, MP (who was an Equality minister for
a short time).
More recently, after I heard of Trevor's reappointment,
I shared information and concerns with Maria Eagle.
I was also informally interviewed by staff within
DCLG who, after my complaints to Maria Eagle, called me in for
an "informal Chat". It turned out that one of them wrote
the audit report concerning [*****] so understood well what I
was referring to but indicated that they were unable to locate
paper work relating to this period to verify my claims.
I am attaching, also, my letter of resignation
and an email exchange between Trevor and I, which reflects how
he tried to persuade me to sign a version of a note, which he
intended to send around to EHRC Commissioners [not printed]. He
was very keen to ensure that my departure was not linked with
Nicola Brewer and also to give the impression that he and I were
on friendly terms when I left. I refused to sign it. I had told
him on a number of occasions leading up to my departure of my
unhappiness with the way the Board was led and Chaired. It was
an open secret that relations between the Chief Executive and
the Chair were very strained. It is hard to believe that any Board
members were unaware of that, at least to some degree. Yet there
was no agenda item at the Board to discuss her premature departure
when she left. An attempt to discuss the reasons for this by one
or two Commissioners was closed down by the Chair, seemingly to
the discomfort of the Chief Executive. I am confident that my
fellow Commissioners who resigned, and were present at that Board,
will be able to corroborate this.
I trust that you will come back to me should
you require points of clarification.
Thanks once again for your commitment to address
1 Redacted to protect privacy of an individual. Back