The Union of Choice for Senior Managers
and Professionals in Public Service
Below are a few examples of cases handled by the FDA, and how the union helped their members.
1. Public spotlight - Brodie Clark suspended as head of the UK Border Force
Brodie Clark was suspended from his position as head of the UK Border Force in November 2011. Home Secretary Theresa May gave a statement to the House of Commons indicating that Clark had improperly relaxed passport checks at British airports without her approval or knowledge.
Following advice from Russell Jones and Walker, solicitors engaged by the union on his behalf, Clark stepped down from his position and lodged a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. He released a statement via the FDA indicating that his position "had been made untenable" because of the statement made by the Home Secretary.
Two reports into issues at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) - from the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine - were released in early 2012. Neither concluded that Clark had acted alone as a 'rogue civil servant' within the agency as had been asserted. In the following March, Clark released a joint statement with the Home Office which indicated that their differences "had been settled". The settlement was made "without the admission of liability or wrongdoing from either side". Its value was not disclosed.
Clark says: "The events of 12 months ago hit me and my family unexpectedly, speedily and unforgettably. Within a matter of hours of [my suspension] I had reporters camped outside my house - and there they remained in large number for three days. The Home Secretary's statement within the House some few days later added to the finger pointing, making my position in the Home Office untenable. All without a semblance of proper process.
"When an employer turns against you in such dramatic fashion, maintaining a sense of perspective is difficult and the timely contact with the FDA was important at a point when all contact had been cut off from the organisation that I had served for 38 years. So, those early FDA conversations imbued a balance, a realism and a clarity of understanding around the events and their context. The FDA remained pivotal for the months that followed - throughout a sequence of important events which included my contribution and responses to the Home Affairs Select Committee enquiry and, separately, John Vine's enquiry; the many legal and employment issues and the subsequent successful mediation event. They offered expertise, advice and encouragement."
2. Accusations leading to a disciplinary process
"Accusations that result in conduct and disciplinary procedures can come out of nowhere. In my case accusations were levied at me two months after I had left my post, by a colleague who, upon my leaving, had sent me a long email extolling my virtues and pledging lifelong friendship.
"Although many of the accusations were clearly unfounded, if not impossible, for example peddling forged passports and visas, the accusations had to be investigated.
"Once the process starts, it needs to work its way through all the stages: there are no shortcuts. While family and friends can offer emotional support, the best professional advice and support is available from the FDA, whose officers have direct experience of the procedures.
"To have someone cast a knowledgeable eye over the response to the investigating officer's report is priceless: a dispassionate and experienced [opinion] can ensure that what you say is both relevant and persuasive.
"None of us are perfect: we all make mistakes. While the majority of mistakes are dealt with by line managers and the appraisal process, there are occasions when these more serious procedures are invoked. It is on these occasions that the value of the FDA becomes clear."
3. Negligence investigation
"I was recently under investigation for negligence. The independent FCO review process eventually cleared me of any accountability. However, getting to this point had been extremely stressful. Knowing that the FDA was there was a great comfort.
"They also provided very useful advice during the process. I also know that having our union rep in touch with the FCO officials involved wouldn't have hurt to focus minds on the need to get it absolutely right.
"Despite having been a member for several years, I never actually expected to be in a situation where I would need to call on the FDA for help. The FDA is an important safety net and ally should you find yourself unfairly on the wrong side of a corporate process. You wouldn't own a house without insurance, and your career and reputation is more important than that."