Citizens Advice bullying claims unfounded, investigation concludes

Former volunteer Gillian Brocklehurst's complaint against Cylch Conwy District CAB is rejected

Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice Bureau

An independent investigation into allegations of bullying at Cylch Conwy District Citizens Advice Bureau has concluded that they were unfounded.

Gillian Brocklehurst, a former volunteer at the Welsh bureau, complained of bullying and harassment when she was dismissed in July 2011 after four years’ voluntary service.

Documents at the time showed that Phil Ward, the charity’s chair, told her that this was because of her "disruptive behaviour".

Brocklehurst denied she was disruptive and claimed she was dismissed for expressing concerns about how the charity was run.

The latest investigation was carried out by Steve Maddox, former chief executive of Wirral Council, and was commissioned by Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, after the national body found "considerable evidence" of bullying and harassment at Conwy CAB when looking into Brocklehurst’s claims.

But Maddox concluded that the allegations of bullying and harassment were unfounded.

Citizens Advice declined to release the full report but put out a statement that said Maddox made a series of recommendations to Citizens Advice, which included speeding up dispute resolution procedures and clearly defining the rights, duties and responsibilities of its volunteers.

He said Citizens Advice should review the circumstances of the case and draw lessons from it for future complaints and appeals.

Guy said she would review Citizens Advice volunteering policies and complaint procedures in the wake of the report.

"The complaints made about Conwy CAB involved very serious allegations and it was important for all concerned that these were investigated independently," she said.

"I am very grateful to Stephen Maddox for his painstaking work and I will be making sure we act on his recommendations."

Brocklehurst told Third Sector she was disappointed but would digest the full report over the weekend. "This has taken 14 months out of my life," she said. "I have no agenda. I don’t want money, I just wanted fair play."

Conwy CAB declined to comment.

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