As many of you are aware, the Guardian
published an interesting article on Friday about the dismissal in September of Mark Nellthorp an HMRC deputy director and diversity officer.
Nellthorp was sacked for a catalogue of sexual misconduct claims made by five junior female employees.
Additionally two female assistant directors at HMRC who worked closely with Nellthorp
were suspended on full pay last February, after being accused of helping
facilitate his behaviour. They are still being investigated.
An independent report
carried out by former John Lewis HR director
Laura Whyte, found that HMRC employees tolerate a significant amount of
“low level” poor behaviour that would not be acceptable in other
It listed “swearing, breaching confidentiality” and “ mocking colleagues” among the actions demonstrated.
HMRC on Friday (coincidentally) published the review’s report, which recommended an
“urgent redesign of the grievance process” including more use of
“mediation and early resolution”, among other changes.
It said the review did not find “any individual within HMRC who had
confidence in the grievance process”. Staff felt they tolerated a lot of
“low-level poor behaviours” not accepted in other workplaces, including
swearing, breaching confidentiality and mocking colleagues.
The Nellthorp article "amuses" me in one sense (not regarding his conduct etc), namely because I submitted the following FOI to HMRC in October 2018
"Dear HM Revenue and Customs,
Please can you advise me of the following:
1 Is Mark Nellthorp still in your employ?
2 If he has left please advise when?
3 What were the reasons for his departure?
The response from HMRC was "amusing" in that they refused to answer it, and noted that they could
neither confirm or deny that they had information about him.
"Under section 40 of the FOIA I can neither confirm nor deny whether HMRC holds information falling within scope of your request. The fact that section 40 has been cited should not be taken as indication that the information requested is or is not held by HMRC."
Ironically I have made other FOI requests on a number of occasions relating to connected issues, none of which HMRC were particularly keen to answer fully. The FOI's and HMRC's response can be viewed here
In addition to that, Nellthorp has featured a few times on this site over the years, eg this gem from November 2011
"My thanks to a loyal reader who dropped me a note about an event last
week for Senior Managers in Personal Tax, which was held at
Lawress Hall, one of the subjects being "Rebranding Pacesetter".
Apparently one of the speakers was Mark Nellthorp, an HMRC deputy director (he is also diversity officer).
Anyhoo, I am given to understand that Mr Nellthorp's speech about
rebranding Pacesetter allegedly included suggestions that old people
have poor hygiene and smell, and how cornflakes stop you masturbating.
When asked by someone about an email he sent concerning job relocations,
he allegedly made reference to Hitler and modern warfare.
I dare say that, "in context", the above all made perfect sense. "
Here's another from September 2017
"My thanks to a loyal reader who has written to me about multiple staff
survey responses being submitted by a certain manager in a certain HMRC
department (the results are published on the HMRC intranet).
"...You see ***'s (redacted by Ken) group in **** was around 100 staff at that time.
Are there no depths to which HMRC will sink?
At the close of the staff survey period the published response rate
for ***'s group was 130 responses out of 100 people. i.e. 130%!!!!
Generally around 60 responses would be expected.
This is fully checkable as number of responses are published with the survey.
Unsurprisingly his groups scores on certain key questions were 10-15 points above the HMRC average.
The point is that apparently you can submit multiple returns on the
survey (the system does not stop you), and many staff in ***'s team are
fully aware he and a few close 'minions' submit multiple positive
responses for his area and have been doing so for several years.
Unfortunately the past couple of years he has gone over quota a bit.....
It not who votes that counts. It's who xeroxes the ballot paper."
Ironically, despite the manipulation, *** still managed to score 20%+
response rate on the bullying question (people who felt they were being
bullied or had witnessed it) over his team of 100!!"
The question that you may ponder is who helped the manager put in multiple responses?
Posts about Digital Evidence Capability (DEC)
also are worth a read.
It is therefore clear that HMRC knew about Nellthorp for quite some time.
There are of course many questions that might be asked about the details, being an experienced auditor/fraud investigator such questions that I would ask if I were conducting a review/investigation include the following:
- who were the enablers?
- were promotions made on the basis of merit or favouritism?
- were roles advertised before they were filled?
- was there an internal cover up?
- what went on a Lawress Hall one night?
But I don't want to bore you, and I'm sure that HMRC have this well covered.
However, here is my advice to members of staff, taxpayers, MPs and journalists if they want to determine if HMRC really is rotten or not.
Ask one question of Sir Jon (sorry Sir Jonathan) Thompson.
But what is it I hear you ask?
THERE IS ONE QUESTION
THE ONLY QUESTION
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
IS THERE MORE TO THIS THAT HAS NOT YET BEEN ADMITTED TO BY HMRC?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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