CEO Kerswell could face race discrimination claims at Tribunal

CROYDON IN CRISIS: To be dragged before an Employment Tribunal by one six-figure salaried exec might be seen as unfortunate. To be taken to the ET by two top execs, with one of them accusing the council of being racist, begins to look troublesome. By STEVEN DOWNES

Called to account: council CEO Katherine Kerswell faces two serious ETs this month

Katherine Kerswell, the council CEO, and her senior “human resources” and legal staff now face not one Employment Tribunal but two in the space of a matter of days, following the resignation last week of former senior exec Hazel Simmonds.

Kerswell and the council’s “top team” are scheduled to appear before the South London Employment Tribunal tomorrow morning, where another former Croydon executive director, Guy van Dichele, has brought a case for constructive dismissal.

Van Dichele and Simmonds were among five of the council’s most senior – and best-paid – employees who were either suspended by Kerswell in February 2021 or who went on long-term sick leave in the aftermath of the council’s financial collapse the previous November.

Now Simmonds, too, is bringing her own ET case, following her resignation after an 18-month period of suspension from her job.

Simmonds had previously launched a grievance claim against the council for race discrimination, victimisation and unlawful reduction in wages. She also brought a direct claim of race discrimination against Kerswell personally.

Yesterday, Simmonds issued a statement to The Municipal Journal in which she said that the council under Kerswell “has taken well over 18 months to investigate the allegations against me, which, bizarrely, include matters which occurred long before I arrived in 2018”.

Serious complaints: Hazel Simmonds

Simmonds said, “The procedure the council has now adopted has made it clear that I will not receive a fair hearing and will not be allowed to return to work.

“I have therefore been constructively dismissed and will pursue my complaints in the Employment Tribunal.”

Simmonds’ ET case, No 2304609/2021, is scheduled to be held on September 27.

As well as claims against Croydon Council, Katherine Kerswell is also listed as a respondent in Simmonds’ claim.

It seems very likely that Simmonds’ case will bring forward elements of her previous complaints under the grievance procedures, including racial discrimination.

Inside Croydon approached Kerswell and the council’s propaganda department for comment on the Simmonds case on Monday. There has been no response.

Read more: Former health director suing council for constructive dismissal
Read more: The Kerswell cull begins: five senior council execs go ‘off-grid’
Read more: A level of ineptitude which would be tolerated nowhere else
Read more: Council forced to declare itself bankrupt

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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1 Response to CEO Kerswell could face race discrimination claims at Tribunal

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Difficult issues abound here – Ms Simmonds was promoted into a quagmire that was in existence already. The question really is what efforts were made to improve the situation and how much control did she actually have if any. Was she culpable or a scapegoat?
    One can say 18 months on paid leave is excessive and in many circumstances a form of constructive dismissal. Was this due to the PIRIs? One feels that too many of the actions were not actually in the Public or Croydons interests but more to do with political protectionism and not just of Labour but more so the other involved parties and Central Governments failures.

    One thing for sure – it most definitely is in the Public interests to attend and report (where allowed) every single detail of Ms Simmonds and Mr Dichelle’s hearings.

    We might then get an idea of what has been going on in our name.

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