Cheltenham Borough Council conducts Laird case post mortem

Cheltenham Borough Council has already made “significant” changes to its recruitment practices after it lost a £1m High Court battle against its former managing director, its HR chief has told Personnel Today.

Amanda Attfield, assistant HR and organisational development director at Cheltenham Borough Council, said the occupational health form for new applicants had been revised to more easily capture any medical history which might interfere with the candidate’s ability to do the job.

The council had claimed that Christine Laird, appointed in 2002, knowingly withheld a history of mental health problems during her application. She left in 2005 on an ill-health pension after a period of sick leave on full pay.

Yesterday a cross-party working group was set up at the ccouncil to further review recruitment policies and disciplinary procedures, and will work closely with auditors KPMG, appointed earlier this year, to identify how the case was handled, when decisions were made and why.

Attfield told Personnel Today: “We do plan to look at our recruitment practices, however these have changed significantly and are much improved since the Laird case – the occupational health form is very different now, so reviewing practice is something we do as a routine.”

She added: “The cross-party working group of members will work with KPMG. We are not [yet] sure what it will mean for our HR policies, but we will wait and see what the investigation work brings.”

The KPMG report is due in September.