22 February 2010

Good on you Cary

'Cary who?' you might say. Well I'm talking about a distinguished Professor from Lancaster University, Cary Cooper, who has quit as patron of the anti-bullying helpline at the centre of the Downing Street bullying kerfuffle.

It's good to see someone upholding the principal of confidentiality in this age of FOI requests and disclosure policies. Cooper's argument is that confidentiality is a key aspect of any such helpline, and by going public about something like this, they have betrayed this fundamental principal. Well done to him for standing by his moral convictions.

Clayboy has posted about a political angle on this story; namely that the charity in question is endorsed by David Cameron and Ann Widdecome. Looks like this is all a cynical bit of party political nonsense!

I'm not saying that bullying is right; I've had a couple of bosses who have been (and probably still are) bullies. The problem is, if you have a confidential helpline, it needs to be confidential. End of story. I don't know of a simple way to deal with bullies in high places, but I know that the worst way to do it is to 'out' the people who have sought help about the matter. The only reason for anyone to publicise these confidential views has to be political; it certainly won't help with any HR situations there may be in number 10.


  1. You're quite right that this is very political. Opponents of Brown are demanding an enquiry, whilst his supporters are either claiming it is malicious politically motivated nonsense, or else arguing that it is a breach of confidentiality (which implicitly assumes the claims are true).

    Dizzy has some interesting stuff which shows that there was already a parliamentary answer which confirmed disciplinary action had been taken in a number of cases over bullying in Brown's departments, so in that respect it was already public knowledge.

    Mouse's view is that this is too important to be left unsaid, and Brown & Mandleson's denials need to be put straight if they are not true.

  2. I have no reason to doubt the truth of the claims about bullying in Gordon Brown's number 10; and whilst I don't think this is an unimportant matter, my main point is about the breach of confidentiality.

    The reason I haven't complained about either of the bullies I have worked for is that I haven't been confident in the 'protection' offered to those who raise such issues. Like many others, I chose the path of least resistance: plodding on whilst looking for a nicer employer.

  3. oops - clicked publish before I had finished!

    My thoughts are with the person/people who were bullied. Now they've been all but outed, they are going to find it difficult to continue a career in the Civil Service. I bet they'll never phone a confidential helpline again!