North Somerset Council wins legal case against ex-employee

PUBLISHED: 16:15 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:15 15 May 2018

Weston Town Hall, where North Somerset Council is based.

Weston Town Hall, where North Somerset Council is based.

Archant

A North Somerset Council employee who was suing the authority for £1.4million had her case rejected by an employment tribunal.

Maggie Siviter was a children’s safeguarding lead at the council, and was sacked after she committed a ‘significant data protection breach’.

She made a series of allegations about the authority’s handling of safeguarding matters, and felt her job should have been protected under whistleblowing rules.

The tribunal found Ms Siviter convinced herself she had uncovered a Rotherham-style child sexual exploitation case.

The ruling says when her contract was not renewed, she believed there had been collusion among senior employees at the council to dismiss her and suppress the facts.

The council said Ms Siviter ‘made a series of serious allegations regarding the council’s handling of a wide range of children’s safeguarding matters – all of which were found to be unsubstantiated’.

A council spokesman said: “The tribunal also found that Ms Siviter ignored the obvious deficiencies in what she was saying and doing and ignored the opinions of her colleagues which highlighted those deficiencies.

“It said that she failed to exercise proper professional judgment in reaching conclusions and was blinded to other explanations.

“Nonetheless the tribunal considered her views were treated with objective assessment by others including the director and assistant director of children’s services at the council.”

It was found the council took disclosures seriously, and carried out independent and thorough investigations.

Sheila Smith, director of people and communities at the council and responsible for children’s services said: “We always have and always will take our safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously.

“While we will always welcome and encourage anyone with concerns about our handling of safeguarding matters to raise them with us, we want to make it clear that it was only when Ms Siviter was dismissed from the council that she made her serious (and unfounded) allegations.

“Defending this case has cost the taxpayer over £200,000 and years of our officers’ time.

“These monies could have been better used in delivering much needed services to children and families.

“We are pleased that we can now put this matter behind us and return our full attention to serving the children and adults of North Somerset.”

Her claim for £1.4million for breach of contract has been dismissed.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Other News Stories

Charity shop staff are hoping to ‘say thank you to the community’ as they celebrate the store’s fifth birthday.

Read more

Crowds gathered at a national charity’s base to march for cancer care at the weekend.

Read more
10:00

North Somerset Council will begin trialling a new phone service next month which allows the public to leave a message asking staff to call them back rather than waiting on hold.

Read more

A ‘fantastic’ provision which has helped build the confidence of children with mental and physical disabilities has reached the end of its first year of operations.

Read more
Yesterday, 13:00

A South West zoo has revealed the first photos of two new-born cubs, the first African lion cubs born in the UK since 2015.

Read more
Yesterday, 08:02

More people are dying in care homes instead of in hospital.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:58

Fewer families are using North Somerset’s children centres since services suffered cut backs.

Read more
Fri, 16:58

Live music, comedy and a double header of two iconic sci-fi films are just a handful of the activities taking place across the district this weekend.

Read more

Most rubbish and recycling collections are being collected on time, says North Somerset Council, following a summer of problems with the service.

Read more
Fri, 08:00

A crackdown on hate crime has been announced by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

Read more

Most Read News

Read Online

Image
Read the North Somerset Times e-edition E-edition

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 8°C

Useful Links

Reader Travel

Clevedon Tide report

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

North Somerset Times twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Show Job Lists

Find planning applications