Statement from Leader of Sheffield City Council, Cllr Terry Fox, in response to the Sue Gray report.
Committee's decision on Chief Executive
The cross-party committee that has been considering the actions of the Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council, Kate Josephs, has concluded its work.
Statement on behalf of the cross-party Committee: “Firstly we would like to thank the people of Sheffield for their patience while the independent investigation has been carried out, and the cross-party committee has conducted its work. We understand this has been a difficult time and people have, quite rightly, been eager to see this situation conclude.
“There has been a prescribed process that forms part of the contract for any statutory officer, and we have strictly adhered to it. This has meant there has been little information that we have been able to share.
“As a result of the findings of the independent investigation, the committee were able to conclude their work. Kate Josephs has decided to publicly share that she received a written warning from the committee. Kate will now be resuming her full duties as Chief Executive.
“The decision was made based on the facts at hand and with very careful consideration. The committee acknowledges that Kate has apologised and believes that she feels genuine remorse."
Members of the committee were Cllr Julie Grocutt, Cllr Penny Baker, Cllr Douglas Johnson, Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed and Cllr Sioned-Mair Richards.
Statement on behalf of Leader of Sheffield City Council, Cllr Terry Fox: “It’s no secret that I’ve been deeply disappointed by Kate Josephs’ actions. Over the last few months I’ve repeatedly said that I share the anger and upset felt by some Sheffielders about the choices Kate has made. Those feelings don’t just go away overnight.
"But I am here to deliver for Sheffield, and that is what matters the most to me now. The Chief Executive’s work to rebuild trust across the city and organisation begins now. Kate and I will also need to rebuild our relationship, and I do believe we are both committed to doing that. We must, and we will, keep driving our amazing city forward. The people of Sheffield deserve that – they are my priority today and always.
"The cross-party committee, which followed national guidelines was put in place for a reason – to ensure a fair process - and I respect their decision. I would like to thank the committee for their work on this and thank the people of Sheffield for their patience while the process was carried out.
"Finally, I want to give my sincere thanks to Eugene Walker for his leadership and support over the last few months in his role as Acting Chief Executive, and our outstanding employees here at the council who have continued their fantastic work during what has been a challenging time.”
Kate Josephs, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council, has said: "I have made mistakes for which I am deeply sorry. I intend to learn from these mistakes and continue to work hard to be the very best chief executive I can be for our city." She has issued a full statement here: https://twitter.com/katejosephs/status/1542146534782943236
- The committee followed a set process which was set by the Joint Negotiating Committee and is available here: Joint Negotiating Committee Handbook for Chief Executives
- On February 3 it was announced that the committee had determined to appoint an independent investigator, with a further statement on 11 February.
- Kate and the Leader of Sheffield City Council Cllr Terry Fox have met, and Kate will be returning with immediate effect.
- The independent investigator is selected by the Chief Executive from a list of three names provided by the Joint Negotiating Committee’s National Joint Secretaries. The JNC maintains a full list of potential independent investigators and the three options are chosen on a “taxi rank” system subject to their availability and their not having any connection to the scope of the enquiry.
- Bearing in mind that the event which gave rise to the investigation took place in the Chief Executive’s previous employment, the investigation related to its impact on her appointment in Sheffield.
- Once appointed it is the responsibility of the Independent Investigator to investigate the allegations – by interviewing witnesses and considering documents relevant to the issues – and to prepare a report stating in their opinion whether (and, if so, the extent to which) the evidence they have obtained supports any allegation of misconduct or incapability or supports a need for action under the procedure for some other substantial reason; and recommending any disciplinary action (if any is appropriate) or range of actions which appear to them to be appropriate for the authority to take against the Chief Executive.
- The full range of potential outcomes for the investigation is outlined in the procedure, as with any procedure of this type they span taking no further action right through to a proposal to dismiss.
- A wide range of people, including staff, made their feelings known about the matters that have played out in public. All submissions from the public and staff that have been received by the council were passed onto the independent investigator.
- The council have been unable to share any information up to now as there is a rigid process that had to be followed that forms part of the contract for any statutory officer. There is very little information that can be shared publicly. Sheffield City Council as an employer also has a duty of care to all individuals involved. As is customary in all sectors, personnel procedures are conducted in confidence to protect personal information relating to individuals and to allow for open and frank consideration of the issues amongst those involved.
- The Sue Gray report was not considered as part of the investigation and the committee’s work as it covered matters in the Chief Executive’s previous employment so was not strictly relevant, but the committee did note that the Gray report bore out the Chief Executive’s description of the event in December 2020
- There is no obligation for employees to tell the council if they receive a fixed penalty notice and this related to a matter in the Chief Executive’s previous employment. However Kate did inform the Committee that she had received an FPN and has also confirmed that in her own statement.
- The investigator’s report will not be published. As is customary in all sectors, personnel procedures are conducted in confidence to protect personal information relating to individuals and to allow for open and frank consideration of the issues amongst those involved,
- The council has not been invoiced for the cost of the investigation, so we do not yet know the full cost of the investigation. In line with our transparency requirements the information on the cost of the paid invoice will be published at the earliest opportunity.
- Remuneration for the Independent Investigator will be set at the Local Government Association’s normal consultancy rate for external consultancy work.
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