Concerns over attempts to ‘influence’ S4C bullying inquiry
Concerns have been raised that some individuals within S4C have been trying to influence an ongoing inquiry into serious bullying allegations involving staff at the broadcaster.
The investigation was launched after a senior official of the broadcasting union Bectu wrote to S4C outlining how a number of its members had been left in tears after being subjected to bullying behaviour.
Cardiff law firm Capital Law has been commissioned to undertake the inquiry and is currently conducting interviews with current and former employees who have come forward to give evidence.
We recently reported how one S4C executive suffered an incident of stress-related heart failure while participating in an “awayday” event at the Urdd Centre in Llangrannog, Ceredigion. and had to be rushed to hospital.
A source has passed us an email sent to staff by S4C’s unitary board chair Rhodri Williams that voices concerns about attempts to interfere in the investigation process. The email states: “Over the past few weeks, I have heard directly from various members of S4C staff about the process – some of whom raised concerns about individuals within S4C trying to influence the process and what people intend to raise with Capital Law.
“I therefore feel compelled to repeat what I said at the staff meeting on May 4. This needs to be an open process – with everyone able to contact Capital Law should they so wish
– but at the same time a confidential process. No one should try to influence a decision about whether to talk to Capital Law or not, or what is said at any meeting with Capital Law.”
Mr Williams went on to give further details about how the inquiry team is operating: “Members of this team have no prior knowledge of the issues likely to arise, and will not be reporting back to the non-executive members as issues arise during the course of the process.They are to stay objective throughout the process. The team will not reach decisions on any allegations that arise during the process – their only duty is to summarise the facts and the evidence collected during the process.
“The non-executive members believe that it is important that Capital Law hears from anyone who wishes to raise something about the working environment and atmosphere within S4C.
Former members of staff can therefore contact Capital Law to arrange a conversation as part of this process. Similarly, some of our partners – such as suppliers in the sector, who have recently worked with S4C – may want input into the process, and they too are welcome to contact Capital Law directly about their experiences.
“During the process, should the team at Capital Law feel that it would be beneficial for them to have input from a member of staff who has not already approached them (for example, if they have been mentioned as a witness in a matter raised with Capital Law by another member of staff), Capital Law will contact the additional staff member inviting them to meet with Capital Law. However, it is up to the individual whether or not they agree to meet with Capital Law – no one will force them to meet or engage in this process.”
In due course the completed report will be delivered.Mr Williams states: “Only the chairman and the board secretary will receive a copy of Capital Law’s report in its entirety. It will not be shared with any other S4C staff. Following receipt of the initial report, we will consider the facts and evidence gathered and receive separate legal advice on the report and the next steps.
“If this leads to further internal processes, those will align with S4C’s existing policies and procedures for dealing with staffing matters. Since non-executive members of the board may need to play a part in these internal processes,
“Capital Law will produce for them a separate summary of their report, therefore not all of the
information collected by Capital Law will be shared with the non-executive members.
“Capital Law will provide a high-level version of their report that reflects the main themes raised during the process – a version that could be published by non-executive members if called for. This will be a simple, fact-based, report and will not provide any commentary on the steps that S4C may take in response. However, I can assure you that no details will be included in this high-level version regarding the experiences of individuals, nor anything that could lead to the individuals who have met with Capital Law being identified.
“It is vital that the confidentiality of this process is respected by everyone involved.
Capital Law will ask the individuals contributing to the process if they are willing to be named in the report, or wish to be anonymous. Without the individual’s consent, Capital Law will not disclose to anyone the identity of those who have come forward to contribute to the process – whether through a meeting or in writing.
“I would like to assure you – if you agree to Capital Law naming you in their report to the non-executive members of the board, the information will not be shared with anyone else within S4C. We will also not commence a further process in response to any allegations made without first obtaining the consent of the relevant individual to be named in that process.”
Meanwhile it has been confirmed that S4C’s chief executive Sian Doyle was never a board member of the telecoms company TalkTalk.
A biographical profile of her on the broadcaster’s website describes her as a former managing director of TalkTalk. A number of individuals have contacted Nation.Cymru questioning Ms Doyle’s status with the firm.
In fact there are 32 companies which are, or have been, in the TalkTalk group. Documents filed at Companies House show that Ms Doyle was not listed as a director of any of them.
We asked S4C for clarification. A spokesman for the broadcaster said: “We are content that proper due diligence was undertaken as part of the appointment process which confirmed that Sian Doyle had been employed as managing director of TalkTalk’s consumer business.”
TalkTalk confirmed that had been the case, that Ms Doyle had not been a member of TalkTalk’s board and she did not have the legal responsibilities linked to being a company director. The part of the business she managed sold broadband packages to customers.
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