Angela O’Connor has fiercely denied that she condoned any discrimination or in any way acted inappropriately during the Halima Aziz race discrimination case that has been running for seven years.
Lawyer Aziz, who was suspended by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in 2001 for saying she was treated like a friend of Osama Bin Laden, won £600,000 compensation earlier this month with the tribunal ordering she should be reinstated in her job. Aziz, of Asian descent, said she was “100% certain” her comments, made after the September 11 terror attacks, would not have been taken the same way if she was a white man.
During the employment tribunal case, it was alleged that O’Connor, former HR director at the CPS “expressly condoned the actions of the HR department and the discriminators”. She also failed to turn up in court to explain her actions, and withheld crucial information on the case, it was claimed.
But O’Connor, who joined the National Policing Improvement Agency as chief people officer in 2006, told Personnel Today the case began before she even joined the CPS.
She said: “I was neither a respondent nor a witness to the proceedings. Following the employment tribunal in 2004, I gave advice to CPS managers. I stand by the advice that I gave at the time.” She added: “The judgment makes remarks about me that are not findings of fact. They are suppositions as is clear from the language used and I have not been provided with an opportunity so far to challenge them.”
The CPS said it accepted the employment tribunal’s decision to make the record award on grounds of racial discrimination, however, it insisted that O’Connor was not to blame.
A statement said: “The CPS does not accept that Angela O’Connor condoned discrimination, or in any way acted inappropriately. It will be seeking a review and appeal of those parts of the employment tribunal judgment where the opposite is suggested.”
O’Connor added she was proud of the progress the CPS had made on equality and diversity during her time there.
Aziz, who was suspended by the CPS in 2001, won a race and sex discrimination case against the CPS in 2004 on grounds that if she had been a white man she would not have been suspended. The dispute continued for seven years – at a cost of more than a million pounds to the taxpayer – because the CPS had remained “in a state of denial” about the case, the tribunal ruled. The new tribunal case described the former one as a “whitewash”.
O’Connor joined the CPS in July 2002.