Exclusive: Charitable firm denies bullying and racism ahead of hearing

0
Have your say

A FLAGSHIP social enterprise set up to aid regeneration and social cohesion in a Yorkshire city has been accused of hiding a culture of bullying, harassment, racism and intimidation within its workforce in a case to be heard at employment tribunal next year.

A FLAGSHIP social enterprise set up to aid regeneration and social cohesion in a Yorkshire city has been accused of hiding a culture of bullying, harassment, racism and intimidation within its workforce in a case to be heard at employment tribunal next year.

A series of allegations has been made against senior people involved with Bradford Trident, set up 11 years ago with a £50m Government grant to help improve run-down communities in the city/ They come from a former employee who claims he was forced out after raising concerns.

Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood, who sits on the Trident board, has been named as a respondent in the case, and could be called as a witness by the tribunal next year. None of the allegations is targeted at him.

Trident has vehemently denied the claims from its former finance officer Iqbal Patel, who was made redundant in September after nearly four-and-a-half years with the organisation.

In a 12-page testimony submitted to Leeds Employment Tribunal this week, Mr Patel – who suffers from mental health problems – claims he was targeted after speaking in support of a colleague whom he said was also being bullied.

He says another formal complaint of bullying had been made by other members of staff in 2009, and insists “bullying, harassing and intimidating” has been within the organisation “for many years”.

Mr Patel claims he was told he was a “marked man” and became the subject of what he calls a “witch hunt.”

He claims a Trident official visited his house one evening while he was off sick with stress and warned him not to return to work.

He believes he was treated badly because he was not of the Pakistani Patan ethnic group.

“A culture existed where anyone who wasn’t a Patan was treated with little respect, and if you was not a Muslim then you were not a person in these people eyes (sic),” he writes.

Mr Patel goes on to describe how he secretly recorded a private conversation between two staff members which proves, he claims, that he was unfairly dismissed.

When he confronted Trident with the recording, he says he faced disciplinary action for recording a private meeting. Mr Patel insists he made the recording by accident.

Bradford Trident was set up in 2000 as a community-owned charity, providing services to improve life in Park Lane, Marshfield and West Bowling. It won national awards and was praised by the National Audit Office as an “excellent” example of where the previous government’s New Deal for Communities programme was working well. The programme ended last year, but Trident has continued to operate – albeit with fewer staff.

Its chief executive Mick Binns said: “Iqbal Patel worked for Bradford Trident from May 2007 until September 2011 as finance officer. From 2000 to 2010 we ran an award-winning comprehensive regeneration programme for the area as a New Deal for Communities programme. When the Government funding ended in 2010, we reduced staff levels to reflect our reduced funding operating as a social enterprise, earning income from our assets.

“Mr Patel was one of four staff (out of 21) who were made redundant. This followed a lengthy consultation period in line with employment legislation and our own internal procedures.

“Every effort was made to find alternatives to redundancy for all staff affected.

“Bradford Trident are fully aware of the allegations being made by Mr Patel and will vigorously defend them at the tribunal.”

Back to the top of the page